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Little giant brings fresh air to Chinese basketball

2009-12-08 16:44 BJT

HONG KONG, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- "Little Giant" is no longer the trademark nickname for NBA star Yao Ming. Now it belongs to Sun Zhe, a 19-year-old boy from Tianjin.

The 2.26-meter-tall Yao, the icon of Chinese basketball, has earned international fame since joining the NBA in 2002.

For Chinese fans, Sun could be Yao's successor in future.

"They call me 'little Yao Ming', but I think to become someone like Yao is still something away in the future," said Sun, who stands 2.20m tall.

Sun played his first Chinese professional league game on January 2, 2008, scoring two points and grabbing five rebounds for the Guangdong club in 17 minutes.

"That was a mediocre opening," he said.

Sun became aware that fans started to compare him to Yao at that time. Then he was sent to train in the Big Man Camp in the United States and hand-picked by a Maine high school coach to play in the high school league for nine months.

"I improved a lot during that period of time. They played fiercer, competitive game, so when I was back, I became stronger and faster," he said.

Sun was called up to the Chinese national team for the first time for the East Asian Games in Hong Kong. He had 13 points and nine rebounds so far.

It was not an impressive show and Sun knows it well. "I still needs much work to do, to improve my pace and strength," he said.

Editor: Su Yu | Source: Xinhua