Phoenix sign Zhou Qi as Chinese big men hit the NBL

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 9, 2021
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Zhou Qi. [photo:xinhua]

The Australian basketball club South East Melbourne Phoenix announced on Wednesday that it has signed Chinese player Zhou Qi on a two-year deal.

The deal was hailed as "monumental" in the press release of the club.

"Signing a Chinese player of Zhou's credentials is a landmark move for the Phoenix and the NBL (National Basketball League)," said Phoenix owner Romie Chaudhari.

"Bringing Zhou to the NBL further expands the league and the club's international presence - this signing makes the Phoenix a real player on the global stage," he said.

Zhou, 25, made his debut with the Chinese national team in 2014. He signed with the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 2017 and played as a center.

He returned to the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) for the 2019-20 season where he averaged 20.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game, according to the statistics from the Phoenix.

"I'm excited to be joining the South East Melbourne Phoenix, I felt my best chance of getting back to the NBA was to join the Phoenix," Zhou said after he signed the contract with the Australian club.

Phoenix CEO Tommy Greer said Zhou, at 2.16 meters tall, whose skill set is something the club hasn't had before, can help the team cement their position at the top of the NBL this year.

"Not only is it a fantastic signing for us as a team, it's a game changing addition to the NBL," Greer said.

"Zhou is an absolute superstar in China and to have him in the NBL is enormous. Zhou joining the NBL will literally add millions and millions of eyeballs to our team and the league."

NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said earlier this week Chinese national team member Liu Chuanxing had signed with the Brisbane Bullets and Zhou's signing reaffirmed the NBL "as a prime destination" for Chinese players looking to make the next step in their career.

"To have a player of Zhou's calibre come to the NBL speaks volumes of the league's standing in global basketball," said Loeliger.

According to the Phoenix, Zhou will join the team in Australia as soon as the visa process is completed and flights are organized. 

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