Shanghai Sharks gear up new CBA season

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail SHINE, October 19, 2018
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Jimmer Fredette (left) will be partnering Luis Scola for Shanghai Sharks in the new season.

Shanghai Sharks players and coaches made a public appearance in the city yesterday, starting their campaign for the 2018-19 Chinese Basketball Association season.

Manager Li Qiuping has set a goal of reaching the playoffs in the new season which starts on Sunday. Last year, the Sharks finished 10th out of the 20 teams in the regular season and failed to make the postseason.

American point guard Jimmer Fredette will continue to be the team's core player but his compatriot Nick Minnerath has been replaced by 38-year-old power forward Luis Scola.

The Argentina international played for NBA side the Houston Rockets from 2007 to 2012. He has also played for the Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets in the United States. Last year, he played for CBA side Shanxi Brave Dragons.

Scola said he joined the CBA because he wanted to keep playing.

"I still have chance to play in the NBA, but most of the time I would be sitting on the bench. So I made the decision to come to China.

"This is a well established team. My task is to assist Jimmer as much as possible," said the Argentine.

Manager Li has returned to the Sharks, being named as the team's head coach in May on a two-year contract.

Li led the Sharks to the country's top-tier league in 1996, which was also the year he introduced Yao Ming to the team. After two runner-up finishes in the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 seasons, Li helped the Sharks win their first CBA title in the 2001-2002 season. He resigned at the end of the 2008-09 season, citing health reasons when the club faced financial problems and was bought over by Yao.

"The team is in a good position after five months of training (following my reappointment)," said Li. "Everyone is looking forward to matches and victory, though our attacking ability is yet to improve, especially the domestic players.

"Fredette has no problem (in fitting into the team). As for newcomer Scola, he is a very experienced player with great skills. He can attack by himself and also drive the whole team, the type of player we have been lacking.

"Train hard and compete hard, no matter what the result, this is my requirement of the players in the new season."

Two veteran defenders — Liu Wei and Luo Xudong — also made a return to the Sharks this year.

Liu played for the Sharks from 1997 to 2014. He left Shanghai for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in 2014 before joining Sichuan Blue Whales in 2016. "I am still adjusting myself, and will try to reach good fitness and form before the start of the season," said the 38-year-old former captain.

Liu has signed a one-year player contract with the club. After that, he will become a member of the coaching staff. "I might not start a match like before, and will have to shift between the role of player and coach. So mentally and physically, adjustments are necessary," he explained.

The Sharks' first match of the new season will be an away game against the Bayi Rockets on Sunday.

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