The quirks and idiosyncrasies of basketball across the globe
Basketball players come in all shapes and sizes, and the same applies to basketball-crazy nations as well. Over the decades, most countries have developed such a distinctive style of play that it is easy for us to pinpoint where a certain player honed his or her craft, and we are often surprised if hoopers do not fit their national stereotypes. Let us take a look at some of these defining characteristics in Asia and how they stack up to their international counterparts.
China: The Chinese play a simple game predicated on size, height and fundamentals. Although starlets like Guo Ailun have popularized ball-handling and guard play in recent times, post play is still the focus for the national squad. Beyond playing style, the grit and toughness embodied by Chinese players is reminiscent of the bruising play of Serbia, whose players definitely do not shy away from physical contact.
South Korea: Korean basketball revolves around two things – speed and shooting. They famously ran a ‘one-in four-out’ offense with four guards in the heyday of Ha Seung-Jin, running teams into the ground with their speedy perimeter players and deadeye shooting. This bears some resemblance to the style of Lithuania, where shooters thrive all over the floor, from the one to the five spot, although size is at a premium in the Korean squad currently.
Iran: The traditional powerhouses execute a heady style that is heavy on movements and ball screens. They are adept in the pick-and-roll, running it time and time again until the opposing defense makes a mistake. In this sense, the offensive approach is akin to that of Greece, which is also centered on the virtues of the pick-and-roll.
Japan: The country that gave us ‘Slam Dunk’ also gives us an attractive style of play built around teamwork, wing scoring and the leadership of diminutive but talismanic point guards from Yuta Tabuse to Yuki Togashi. Their level of chemistry and team play draws parallel to Spain, a team that is also led by lead guards such as the legendary Juan Carlos Navarro and Sergio Llull.
Philippines: The Gilas’ roster is filled with flash and one-one scoring, with players who can get buckets in their sleep. As they make their way back onto the international stage, the American influence on their playing style is clear to see, with a similar focus on offense and beating their men off the dribble.