Rock­ets host, beat Shanghai Sharks

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By MAY ZHOU in Hous­ton mayzhou@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

We hope to im­prove our skills by par­tic­i­pat­ing in NBA pre­sea­son games.”

Li Qi­up­ing, Shanghai Sharks head coach

There were one or two co­in­ci­dences in play at the NBA pre­sea­son game be­tween the Shanghai Sharks and the Hous­ton Rock­ets on Tues­day at the Toy­ota Cen­ter.

Sharks head coach Li Qi­up­ing, who more than 20 years ago coached the team and trained fu­ture Rock­ets star Yao Ming, re­cently re-signed as coach, af­ter be­ing away for al­most 10 years pur­su­ing other op­por­tu­ni­ties.

This is the third year that the Sharks have come to play the Rock­ets as part of both teams’ pre­sea­sons, an ar­range­ment made by Sharks owner Yao Ming and his old NBA team, said Li.

In ad­di­tion, two other teams from the China Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (CBA) — from Bei­jing and Guangzhou re­spec­tively — were in­vited to the US to play pre­sea­son games for the first time.

“Right now the Shanghai Sharks are not the best team in the CBA,” Li said. “We hope to im­prove our skills by par­tic­i­pat­ing in NBA pre­sea­son games. We would cer­tainly wel­come more such op­por­tu­ni­ties in the fu­ture.”

Ar­gen­tinean Luis Scola joined the Sharks in 2017. He signed with the Hous­ton Rock­ets in 2007 and was Yao Ming’s team­mate for a while. Dur­ing the game, the Toy­ota Cen­ter played a spe­cial video to wel­come him back to his old home court.

An­other for­mer NBAer, Jim­mer Fre­dette, joined the Sharks in 2016.

“We re­cruit for­eign play­ers to im­prove our own skills as well as to make the game more ap­peal­ing to the fans,” Li said.

Li said that the for­mer NBA play­ers are bet­ter skilled than their Chi­nese team­mates, and a game against the Rock­ets also helped the team get bet­ter co­or­di­nated and in sync with each other.

Un­for­tu­nately dur­ing the first half, Rock­ets player Zhou Qi was in­jured and had to be wheeled off the court.

Zhou Qi joined the Rock­ets last year from CBA’s Xin­jiang Fly­ing Tigers, a team Li also coached.

“I am very sorry that Zhou Qi got in­jured,” Li said. “He will be ex­am­ined later, and I hope it’s noth­ing se­ri­ous. I hope he will have more play­ing time this sea­son.”

The Rock­ets won the game by a considerable mar­gin — 128-86.

“Our team’s skills are cer­tainly no match for the Rock­ets, which is a top team in the NBA, with strong of­fen­sive abil­i­ties.

“But I think the Sharks did their best, de­spite the fact that we need to im­prove on both our of­fense and de­fense,” Li said.

Some Amer­i­can fans brought signs such as “I love you Sharks!” to show their sup­port to the team that is now owned by their for­mer All-Star Yao Ming. Other fans held a big sign that read sim­ply: “YAO”.

MAY ZHOU / CHINA DAILY

The Shanghai Sharks play against the Hous­ton Rock­ets in a pre­sea­son game on Tues­day in Hous­ton.

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