22 - 31
July 2016
13 Jianiyou Taruike (CHN)
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Taruike taking lessons from former NBA stars Marbury, Morris

TEHRAN (2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship) - China's CBA league regularly makes headlines about big name players coming in to play. Rarely has anything been discussed about the benefits of former NBA stars entering the league. One of them is young Chinese talents getting exposure to those players - with Taruike Jianiyou being one of those players. 

Taruike is one of the leaders of the China team at the 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship. The 2.07m center is averaging a team-high 12.2 points to go with 7.2 rebounds per game while also chipping in 1.8 blocks and shooting 67 percent from the floor. And it is his first FIBA Asia tournament. 

"It's an honour and I'm really happy to be playing for my team," Taruike said.

China are shooting for a fourth straight FIBA Asia U18 title and went through the Group Stage with a perfect 5-0 record in Group A - though they needed to come back from a 16-point late third quarter deficit to defeat second-placed finishers Chinese Taipei. In fact Taruike played a huge role in getting China back in that game with 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. 

The goal for China, however, is clear - title number 12 in 24 U18 editions. When asked what the Chinese must do to win again, Taruike answered: "We need to concentrate on strengthening our defence and stay focused throughout the game."

Taruike started playing basketball when he was 10 years old. He says his favourite player is Dwight Howard. His father has Nigerian roots and is reportedly a former NBA player with his mother being from China, making him the country's first mixed blood international. 

"It doesn't make much difference," Taruike said about what that distinction means to him. 

Much more important is his experience with the CBA team Beijing Ducks, which includes former NBA star Stephon Marbury and three-year veteran Randolph Morris.

Taruike Jianiyou could be a leader for China in the future.

"I'm currently playing for the Beijing youth team. I'm learning from them and hopefully in the future I can get a run in the first team," Taruike said. 

Going against the likes of Morris occasionally in practice and watching how Marbury carries himself really has helped the 18-year-old in his development. As did his experience last year at the 2015 adidas Nations event. 

"I basically learned how to rebound and defend," he admitted. "It did help me, but still I have to remain focused and follow the coach's instructions."

Taruike has been one of the beneficiaries of former NBA players coming to China. But soon, he’d like to make his own name thanks to that experience - while bringing home another U18 title for China.