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October 16, 2019

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Sharks aim for top-8 CBA finish with new owners

The Shanghai Juss Sharks are aiming for a brand new start under the leadership of a new owner.

The Chinese Basketball Association side, previously owned by former NBA star Yao Ming, was taken over by the state-owned Juss Sports Group this year after Yao was named the president of the association.

The new ownership means the club will receive more support, both financially and strategically, for its future development.

“We have unveiled new players and invited a new assistant coach from Greece this year,” head coach Li Qiuping said at the team’s motivation ceremony for the 2019-20 CBA season yesterday. “The team has trained hard in the summer and received a lot of support from the new owner. We will improve our defense and put on a new look in the new season.”

Li said the Sharks’ target for the season is a top-eight finish.

The team has signed two new foreign players — American point guard James Nunnally and Lithuanian center Donatas Motiejunas, who played for Shandong in 2018.

“I have played in the CBA before,” Motiejunas said. “It’s a pleasure to join Shanghai. The team hasn’t reached the playoffs for a while, and I will do my best to help the Sharks and its new ownership meet the target for the season.”

Last year, the Sharks had a good start — winning six of their seven opening matches. But the team paid for its unsteady form in the latter part of the season, and eventually finished 12th in the 20-team league to clinch the last ticket for the playoffs’ preliminary round.

It was eliminated in the preliminary round by the Beijing Ducks. Star player Jimmer Fredette also left the team.

“There are a lot of changes in our squad this year,” said Li. “The average age of our players is one year younger than last season. We have more backup players in all positions.”

Li said the players focused on improving personnel techniques during their summer training. The team will decide after the preseason games whether it’s necessary to introduce a third foreign player.

“Our standard for a foreign player is that he has to be a team player first, someone who can cooperate with teammates, and then help score more points,” Li pointed out.

The 2019-20 CBA season will kick off in two weeks’ time.




 

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