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FIBA Asia Cup: Top guard banners China; Qatar, Iraq boost rosters
MANILA, Philippines – Six-foot-4 do-it-all guard Guo Ailun, a Mythical Five member in the Changsha FIBA Asia Championship, banners the China team that will be without top behemoths Yi Jianlian and Zhou Qi in its title defense in the Asian meet that fires off in Lebanon on Tuesday next week.
Six-foot-9 forward Zhou Peng, 6-foot-5 guard Li Gen and 7-foot-2 center Li Muhao are the other Asia Cup veterans in the Chinese squad that will be Gilas Pilipinas’ first assignment in the Lebanon joust next Wednesday.
Liu Xiaoyu, Gu Quan, Yu Dehao, Ren Junfei, Hu Jinqiu, Zeng Lingxu, Wu Qian and Han Dejun complete the roster of coach Du Feng for the 2017 Asia Cup where they are bracketed with the Philippines, Qatar and Iraq in the group play.
The top team automatically advances to the quarterfinals while the second and third teams make the qualifying games to the Final Eight.
Yi, a five-year NBA veteran with Milwaukee, New Jersey, Washington and Dallas, and Zhou, the 43rd pick by the Houston Rockets in the 2016 NBA Draft, are conspicuously missing in the Chinese team to Asia Cup. They might be lined up for the FIBA Asia World Cup qualifiers.
Meanwhile, Qatar is bringing back five Changsha conclave veterans in Lebanon, where the Qataris also unveil US-trained 6-foot-10 center forward Nasser Al-Rayes.
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Al-Rayes was a three-sport star athlete at CalTech, standing out in basketball, volleyball and track and field.
He won the Coach’s Choice Award in basketball in his sophomore year where he averaged 19 points, 13 rebounds and 3.5 blocks for the CalTech Beavers.
He’s to add depth and firepower to coach Kousay Hatem Khalaf’s team, which will also bank on the experience of veterans Abdelrahman Abdelhaleem, Mohamed Mohamed, Mohd Mohmmed, Abdulrahman Mohamed Saad and Ali Saeed Erfan.
Abdulrahman Ibrahim Al-Muftah, Omer Salem, Ahmad Yousif Al-Darwish, Mohamed Abdelaziz Abdelkawy, and Mansour Atif Elhadary complete their roster.
Gone is naturalized player Clinton Johnson, their top scorer and playmaker in Changsha.
For Iraq, the biggest change from its Jones Cup lineup is the entry of naturalized player Kevin Dwayne Galloway in place of DeMario Mayfield.
Galloway, who played college ball for USC, Southern Idaho, Kentucky and Texas Southern, suited up with the Iraq team in the FIBA Asia Challenge last year in Iran before Mayfield took over in the recent Jones Cup.
From the Jones Cup, the Iraqi quintet pitched camp in Istanbul, Turkey.