As a teammate of China's favorite basketball player, Yao Ming, Aaron Brooks knows the Houston Rockets will boast home-court advantage for the coming preseason games against the New Jersey Nets.
"We have Yao Ming, which means we should have an edge. I know the fans in China are extremely passionate, and their support will definitely drive us to play better. Hopefully, we will be the favorites," Brooks said during a recent teleconference to promote the NBA China Games, which tip off on Oct 13 in Beijing before moving to Guangzhou three days later.
Having traveled to China several times to attend sponsorship and promotional activities and Yao's charity games this summer, the 25-year-old guard is looking forward to playing with Yao again.
"I always have a good time in China. I brought my wife, dad, brother and some of my friends here last year. It's a great opportunity to experience another culture," said Brooks.
"The difference this time is I will be with Yao and some other guys who have never come with me before. Playing a real game with them in China is fantastic for me," he said.
Averaging 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per game, Brooks won last season's Most Improved Player award.
The 1.83m guard showed his potential to be an all-star without Yao last year, when he led the team to a surprising 42-40 record.
His battle against Nets swingman Devin Harris is believed to be the most eye-catching matchup of the China Games after a possible "China derby" between Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian was blown up by Yi's trade to the Washington Wizards in early June.
"He (Harris) is one of the quickest guys in the league. But I am confident competing against him, and we will have fun," Brooks said.
The China Games will play a big role in Houston's preparation to the new season, especially with Yao coming back from injury and some new additions to the roster.
"With a lot of new guys and Yao's return, our No 1 priority for the China Games is to build up chemistry and to get our team ready in the preseason for the new season," Brooks said.