JAKARTA (Indonesia) – There will be a gap without national team basketball action now as the Asia Cup Qualifiers have concluded. It won’t be long until the start of the World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers and the Asia Cup itself later next year, but we know that Asia Cup fans will always be hungry.

That’s why we’re here to assure everyone that some of their favorite basketball stars will still definitely be showcasing their talents in the time being until duty calls once again. An interesting location where some of Asia Cup’s (literal) biggest stars will collide is in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL): Zhou Qi, Kai Sotto, and Liu ChuanXing.

Australian basketball fans are certainly used to seeing tall players NBL. Even then, these three newcomers should be able to create quite a buzz in the land dow under.

Kai Sotto (Philippines)

Signed with Adelaide 36ers
Asia Cup Qualifiers statistics: 9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game

 

“Sotto to the Sixers” was a done deal way back in April, even before the final window of the Asia Cup Qualifiers so the fans in the Philippines have been excited about this move for quite a while now.

As the upcoming NBL season inches closer, Adelaide basketball fans should also be a bit excited about this 2.16M (7’1″) talent.

Sotto’s numbers during the Asia Cup Qualifiers might not have popped out, though this is more of a result of coach Tab Baldwin managing the minutes of his teenage star. The center played only 18.9 points per game, so it’s probably not too farfetched to imagine that he could easily put up double-double averages as he matures. Even when he played in the Olympics Qualifying Tournaments later, Sotto continued to produce steady numbers of 9.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

Sotto will join a 36ers team that finished 7th-place last season with a 13-23 record. He’ll also be playing with Sunday Dech who played for Australia during the Asia Cup Qualifiers.

Liu ChuangXing (China)

Signed with Brisbane Bullets
Asia Cup Qualifiers statistics: 5.3 points, 3.0 rebounds per game

Sotto will be a pretty tall dude in the NBL but even at his height, he’ll still be giving up a few inches to another Asia Cup player that is headed to play in the NBL.

That towering giant is 2.25M (7’5″) Liu ChuanXing.

 

 

The 22-year-old center has played three seasons in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) for the Qingdao Eagles, starting more than half the games he’s played in over the last two seasons. In 2020-21, Liu averaged 9.7 points and 8.3 rebounds which earned him a call up to the senior national team for the first time in the Asia Cup Qualifiers.

He flashed enough potential to intrigue the Bullets, leading to the signing to be announced earlier in September.

Liu made the headlines as the tallest player ever to play in the NBL, though Bullets fans will certainly be hoping that the big man will help them improve on a 6th-place standing from last season.

The Bullets will also have Asia Cup 2017 champion Jason Cadee as well as Nathan Sobey who played for the Boomers during the Asia Cup Qualifiers.

Zhou Qi (China)

Signed with South East Melbourne Phoenix
Asia Cup Qualifiers statustics: 18 points, 12 rebounds

It took only one day after Liu ChuanXing’s deal announcement for the next Asia Cup standout to sign with a team in the NBL.

And this was a big name indeed.

 

Zhou Qi has been known for being one of Asia’s biggest stars, having won Asia Cups and CBA titles and awards. He’s one of the few to have played in the NBA ad now he’ll be taking his talents to the Melbourne.

The 2.12M (6’11”) center might be the shortest of the three Asia Cup Qualifiers players to play in the NBL this year, but he might have had the biggest impact. Zhou played in only one game against Japan, but was dominant for China with 18 points on 7-11 shooting from the field, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

The Phoenix are one of the fastest rising teams in the NBL, having recently reached the Finals in only their second season. Adding a high-level talent like Zhou should only make their chances of returning to that stage – and maybe even win it all – a bit higher.

Zhou will be joining some familiar Asia Cup faces on the team whether it’s Cam Gliddon and Mitch Creek who played for the Asia Cup 2017 title team or Kyle Adnam and Dave Pineau who played during the Qualifiers for the Boomers or even New Zealand standouts Reuben Te Rangi and Tohi Smith-Milner.

With Sotto, Liu, and Zhou headed down to Australia for some high-level action, it won’t only be the Australian basketball fans that will be excited as the Asia Cup fans will be craving to see these stars on the court as well.

FIBA

Via Fiba