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September 2019
9 Qi Zhou (CHN)
12/02/2019
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Does CBA comeback for Zhou Qi mean possible return at FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2019?

LIAONING (CHINA) - Defending Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) Champions and FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2018 participants, Liaoning Flying Leopards, will be getting a huge addition soon after it was reported that China national team standout, Zhou Qi, has decided to join the team.

 

The 2.12 M (6’1”) big man was the 43rd overall draft pick in the NBA by the Houston Rockets and spent the last two seasons with the team of another Chinese legend, Yao Ming. QI’s decision means a return to the CBA where he played from 2014 to 2017 with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers.

The 23-year-old had great success with the Flying Tigers, averaging 15.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per contest over three seasons. He was among the league’s best defenders even as a teenager, finishing no less than 2nd in blocked shots per game each year with a 2.9 average. The 2016-2017 season was a highly successful year with the Flying Tigers winning the title and Qi winning the personal accolade of Defensive Player of the Year.

The success carried on to the summer when the team participated in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2016 under the team name China Kashgar. Armed with the likes Qi, Le Gen, Abudushalamu Abudurexiti, and Andray Blatche, Kashgar roared all the way through to beat Al-Riyadi of Lebanon in the championship game, 96-88. Qi put up 9 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the final bout, right along the lines of an impressive average output of 10.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks throughout the tournament.

While Qi has decided that he will return to the CBA with the Liaoning Flying Leopards, he will not be able to play in this 2018-2019 season as he was not registered at the beginning of the season. Not having Zhou Qi now should not be a problem for the Flying Leopards who are currently just as strong as they were when they won the CBA title last year. Led by national team stars Guo Ailun and Han Dejun, as well as CBA legend Lester Hudson, Liaoning are currently second in the standings with a 33-5 record. They have also just rattled off a 25-game winning streak, which is the third longest streak of consecutive victories ever in CBA history.

As champions of the CBA in 2017-2018, Liaoning made their way to the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2018. Because Zhou Qi is unable to play in the CBA this season as a Flying Leopard, is it possible for him to make his Liaoning debut in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2019 should the team be crowned champions of the current CBA season?

Zhou Qi is reportedly already back in China to visit friends and family. He will then prepare for participation with the China national team in final window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asia Qualifiers later this month. After recently being named to the final squad for the final window, Qi will be making his first appearance for China in the Asian Qualifiers.

FIBA