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Feature: Rising basketball stars emerging from first China National Youth Games

By Sportswriter Yao Youming

TAIYUAN, China, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) — Many local Chinese basketball stars kicked off their professional careers through the Chinese National Youth Games played in Fuzhou in 2015, with some of them securing the positions in the Chinese Basketball Association league (CBA). Let’s take a look at some of the stars who have emerged from the Games.

1.Shen Zijie is just a step away from WC stage.

In the first Youth Games, Shen was a star. With the height of 2.07m and an arm span of 2.20m, Shen earned not only a gold medal, but also fans and fame.

After the 2015 Youth Games, Shen entered the CBA as a bench player with the Shenzhen Leopards. He didn’t have any chances in the first one or two seasons, but has gained the confidence of his coach and teammates recently.

In the 2018-2019 season, Shen averaged 11.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in the CBA. The 21-year-old had been a member of China’s national team in 2019, competing with Chinese stars such as Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin.

Although the FIBA World Cup will start in a month, China team’s head coach Li Nan hasn’t announced the host’s final squad yet.

Even if Shen may miss out on the chance this time, the rising star will surely have many opportunities to represent China in international competitions going forward.

2. Li Yueru aims to lead China past Olympic qualifiers.

In the year 2015, Li Yueru brought the Guangzhou Under-16 women’s basketball team a national title in the Youth Games. In the year 2019, the 20-year-old told Xinhua that as a main player for team China, she’d like to lead China to secure its ticket in the Tokyo Olympics.

Li was listed in team China’s rosters three years ago. In the 2017 Women’s Basketball Asian Cup, Li and her teammates grabbed bronze. In the 2018 FIBA women’s World Cup which held in Spain, China finished in the fifth place.

In 2019, Li won a WCBA title. On April 10, Li was selected by the WNBA side Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Draft, taking her into a league populated by the world’s elite female players.

China will start its Olympic preliminaries in the 2019 Asian Cup in September.

“I was a rookie player in 2017. I only need to finish my mission, that’s enough,” Li said.

“But this time I should lead my newly-promoted national teammates to follow the coach’s orders carefully. I want to have a good performance in the upcoming Asian Cup, and a good start to the preliminaries campaign,” Li added.

3. Xing Jinbo, Tairuke Jianiyou set to have bright futures

The 22-year-old Xing Jinbo was the hottest female player during the first National Youth Games.

Xing always accepts flowers and a hero’s welcome from fans when taking part in the WCBA. She is chasing her dream of being a main senior national-class basketballer.

Boasting a height of 2.08m and an arm span of 2.18m, Taruike Jianiyou, who gained fame in the first National Youth Games, is nicknamed “foreign player” by his fans. Taruike now plays in the CBA, representing three-time title holders the Beijing Ducks.

With the ongoing basketball tournaments of the 2nd edition Youth Games in full swing, more and more young athletes will have the chance to march on this same road to fame.

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