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Zhou Qi returns to carry China in last Asian Qualifiers window

BEIJING (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers) - China's chances of finishing strong at the Asian Qualifiers have been bolstered with the return of big man Zhou Qi.

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The former Houston Rocket has not played in any Asian Qualifiers contest yet, but his size, length and athleticism make him an intriguing addition to a squad that will be without star frontliners Yi Jianlian and Wang Zhelin as well as high-scoring perimeter players Ding Yanyuhang, Guo Ailun and Zhou Peng.

Zhou Qi last played for Team Dragon at the Rio 2016 Olympics, where he registered 5.6 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.0 block per game. He spent much of the past two years in the United States, hoping to be a mainstay for the Houston Rockets in the NBA. He has since returned to China and will see action again in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) next season.


 China 15-man pool for the final Asian Qualifiers window   
 Abudushalamu Abudurexiti  Chen Linjian  Fang Shuo  Fu Hao
 Guo Haowen  Hu Jinqiu  Liu Zhixuan  Ren Junfei
 Shen Zijie  Sun Minghui  Wu Qian  Yu Dehao
 Zhai Xiaochuan  Zhao Rui  Zhou Qi  

Joining Zhou Qi on the initial 15-man pool for coach Li Nan are veterans Abudushalamu Abudurexiti, Zhai Xiaochuan and Sun Minghui. Abudurexiti and Qi should form a potent frontcourt for coach Li, especially as they are set to face the likes of Jordan's Zaid Abbas and Mohammad Shaher Hussein.

Sun, for his part, will be charged with quarterbacking responsibilities for the team, while Zhai should provide a lot of size and versatility at either forward spot.

Another interesting addition is one of last year's breakout U18 Asia stars, Guo Haowen. The 6ft 7in (2.01m) forward averaged around 19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists for China in the FIBA U18 Asia Cup 2018, helping the team finish on the podium and qualify for the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece this year. He should gain a lot of valuable experience as he plays alongside Zhai and Sun and under coach Li.

China are set to travel to the city of Amman, where they will play Jordan on 22 February at the Prince Hamza Arena before ending their Asian Qualifiers campaign against Syria on 24 February at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Zouk Mikael, Lebanon.