TOKYO, Japan (4th FIBA Asia Cup): Guo Ailun has been a virtual permanent fixture in all Chinese National Teams – across age groups – right from the day he cut his teeth as a strapping teenager at the inaugural FIBA Asia U16 Championship at Johor Bahru (Malaysia) in 2009.
And the most recent of all those appearances when he made the roster for the 2012 London Olympics, when as a 19-year-old he became one of the youngest to play at the world’s most hallowed turf.
But point all this to the Liaoning youngster, pat comes the retort: “All this is fine. You have seen me all this time. Tell me if I have become a better player.” Obviously I skirted that responsibility and chose to play the ball back to his court and asked: “What are the areas you think you need to improve?”
And the answer to that question prompt, proper and precise: “I am not reading the game enough.”
“This is an area I need to pick the ropes very fast. Frankly, I feel I am quite pathetic at times (laughs) in the decision I make as the play maker,” he said.
Does it mean he’d prefer to play a more supportive role rather than be the fulcrum of the team?
“No. I don’t mean that at all. I am quite thrilled in playing the role I’ve got. Just that I have this feeling all that time I’m not doing enough,” he said.
“I have set some personal goals to achieve in terms of improving my game,” he said referring to China’s prospects in the competition at the 4th FIBA Asia Cup.
“I want to see how much I’ve grown as a player. And my aim in the long term is to become the best player I can ever become. Therefore every game here, as always, is a reality check for me,” he said.
If one of the checks on reality was to lead the team to victory when the chips are down, Guo Ailun had passed it with flying colors with his game-high scoring against Philippines on Friday.
S Mageshwaran / FIBA Asia
Photo: Milad Payami / FIBA Asia