Wang Zhizhi still the man teammates look to

Updated: 2012-02-17 15:24

By Sun Xiaochen (

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BEIJING - Something about Guangzhou brings out the best in Wang Zhizhi.

In 2010, he celebrated China's gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games at Guangzhou International Sports Arena. This weekend at the same venue, he'll lead the South in the CBA All-Star Game.

It will be a trip down memory lane for the Bayi Rockets' cornerstone.

"This venue is one of the best basketball arenas in China, an NBA-standard facility, as is the MasterCard Center in Beijing," Wang told China Daily earlier this week. "We feel blessed to be able to play in it. I especially had some thrilling memories there when I played in the Asian Games final."

That final also provided some clues that the national team can succeed without the now-retired Yao Ming or new star Yi Jianlian.

Thanks to Yao's injury and Yi's NBA commitments, the unseasoned squad came into the final as an underdog but still managed to defeat South Korea in a close battle driven by Wang's performance.

After the game, Wang's teammates paid tribute to their leader by hanging all 12 gold medals around his neck and bowing together in front of him.

"Yeah, that's probably the most impressive moment in my career," Wang said. "But I was much more excited that we won in a tough situation and we fought together as an underdog. That's why (the venue) has special meaning for me and why I am excited to play in it again."

Leading the All-Star voting to earn his record-seventh start for the South, Wang said he still feels fresh enough to play.

The 2.14-meter center, in his 14th season in the league, said the event is a chance to pay back his die-hard supporters and sponsors.

"I am really excited to be able to play the game as a starter again, even though I've been there many times," said Wang, a three-time All-Star MVP winner. Winning the vote "is an acknowledgment of my performance, and I feel grateful to the fans. Hopefully, we can fully relax and deliver an entertaining show."

As he approaches the end of his career, the 34-year-old said he will cherish every minute on the All-Star stage and do what he can to wow the crowds.

Wang said he is keen to fight for his country at the London Olympics, and will continue to be a national representative as long as possible.

Wang, who watched the NBA's All-Star weekend during his six-year stay with the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat, hailed the Chinese league's foreign players as better performers.

"We have a lot of NBA-caliber foreign players this season," he said. "They are more willing to show off their characters at the All-Star Game compared with the Chinese. They are good at making fun and stylish stunts. I am looking forward to their play."


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