Interview: Li Qiuping says NBA pre-season games help Chinese teams a lot

By Sun Jiayi

HOUSTON, Oct. 9 -- Shanghai Sharks head coach Li Qiuping says playing in NBA pre-season games has helped Chinese basketball teams considerably.

The NBA invited three Chinese teams to take part in its pre-season games this year, two more than that last year. Li said this level of interaction with NBA teams has really helped Chinese sides improve their basketball tactics and skills.

"Our CBA players have been able to have direct contact with NBA players and feel the rhythm and the atmosphere of NBA games," Li said in an inclusive interview with Xinhua here on Tuesday.

Talking about his side's pre-season game with the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night, Li said he hoped the game would help his players play together more efficiently.

"We can practise our team tactics through this rare opportunity," Li said. "We can also help [Luis] Scola and Jimmer [Fredette] fit in the team better."

Scola, of Argentina, joined the Sharks in 2017, while American Fredette signed for the team in 2016.

In 2009, Li went to the States to join the Dallas Mavericks and witnessed the team lift 2010-2011 season champion. He said that while Chinese teams could learn from NBA sides in terms of administration and operations, they would also need to adapt to national conditions.

"The NBA has the best marketing operations and team management," Liu said. "But CBA is also slowly improving through 20 years of development. Since there are still differences and discrepancies between the two leagues, we cannot entirely copy their mode and management. We must also adapt their techniques to our unique circumstances."

Li also discussed the career of Zhou Qi, who joined the Houston Rockets from CBA side Xinjiang Flying Tigers in 2017.

"He is a talented player and I believe he can improve his basketball skills to a higher level," Li said. "But if he wants to gain a foothold in the NBA, he needs to improve his confrontation abilities and train his body to get stronger. And this takes a lot of time."

At this summer's Asian Games tournament, both China's men's and women's basketball teams won their respective categories, and Li noted that the future of Chinese basketball looks bright.

"We need to keep reforming our basketball industry. There are so many young players, and the most important thing is to give them more space and provide them with a bigger platform. I think Chinese teams will become better and better in the future."

Li added that he hoped that China could make a breakthrough at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"Our best result in past Olympic Games was eighth place," Liu said. "We have so many young players and coaches of real potential here. I hope we can enter the top eight."

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