Shao on a mis­sion in Min­nesota

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By SUN XIAOCHEN sunx­i­aochen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Shao Ting is vow­ing to make the most of her pre­sea­son try­out op­por­tu­nity with the Min­nesota Lynx of the WNBA.

Shao, 27, starred in the col­le­giate ranks be­fore join­ing China’s na­tional squad. She was the team’s lead­ing scorer in Olympic qual­i­fy­ing and av­er­aged 9.6 points and 2.6 re­bounds in five starts at last year’s Rio Games.

Shao and Lynx cen­ter Sylvia Fowles have led Beijing Great Wall to two con­sec­u­tive Women’s Chi­nese Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion ti­tles.

“The Lynx signed me to take part in their train­ing camp. For me, it’s mainly about learn­ing as I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the in­ten­sity of the high­est level of the game,” Shao said be­fore de­part­ing for the US on Fri­day.

“It’s a chal­lenge for me. The

Score­board

only thing I can do is try to en­joy my­self while do­ing my best in the camp. The rest of it will take care of it­self if I can prove my com­pe­tence.”

Three-time WNBA cham­pion Min­nesota an­nounced on April 18 it had signed Shao, but didn’t re­veal terms of the deal.

Beijing-based All Star In­ter­na­tional Sports, the agency rep­re­sent­ing Shao, later con­firmed she was signed to a non-guar­an­teed deal to take part in the Lynx train­ing camp, which opens on Sun­day, and two pre­sea­son games next month.

If she secures a con­tract, Shao will be the fifth Chi­nese to suit up in the WNBA, af­ter former na­tional team star Zheng Haixia, Sui Feifei, Miao Li­jie and Chen Nan.

A ver­sa­tile play­maker and pro­lific scorer, Shao spent the past four sea­sons with Beijing in the WCBA af­ter lead­ing Bei- jing Nor­mal Univer­sity to five con­sec­u­tive ti­tles in the Chi­nese Univer­sity Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion from 2009-13.

Fowles and Lynx team­mate Maya Moore are two of sev­eral WNBA play­ers who com­pete in the Chi­nese league, which runs dur­ing the WNBA off­sea­son.

Dur­ing Beijing’s ti­tle run last sea­son, Shao av­er­aged 12.8 points, 3.4 re­bounds and 2.7 as­sists while shoot­ing 55.2 per­cent from the field in 41 games to fin­ish sec­ond to Fowles in team scor­ing.

“My dreams of play­ing pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball and play­ing for the na­tional team have been ful­filled,” Shao said.

“Now I have a chance to re­al­ize the ul­ti­mate goal. Maybe I am not the best phys­i­cally over there, but my pas­sion for the game and my re­silience are as good as any­one’s. I will be more ag­gres­sive.”

Her WNBA trial has earned ap­proval from na­tional team head coach Xu Limin, who also helms Beijing Great Wall.

“China hasn’t seen a player in the WNBA for a long time so I feel re­ally proud for Shao to have the chance to rep­re­sent China in the US,” said Xu.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity to learn and im­prove, al­though her stay might con­flict with our na­tional team train­ing ar­range­ment. Still, I hope more Chi­nese play­ers will fol­low her to higher-level com­pe­ti­tion.”

Chen, signed by the WNBA’s Chicago Sky in the spring of 2009 but waived af­ter 26 games, of­fered a tip for a smooth tran­si­tion for Shao.

“The in­ten­sity of the train­ing and much fiercer phys­i­cal con­tact present chal­lenges on court while the abil­ity to adapt to a to­tally dif­fer­ent cul­ture, lan­guage and en­vi­ron­ment is needed off the court,” Chen said.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Shao Ting, a key mem­ber of China’s na­tional team, has been in­vited to train­ing camp by the WNBA’s Min­nesota Lynx.

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