CBA president Yao Ming -excited and nervous- about league resumption

CBA president Yao Ming speaks during an interview with Chinese Central Television on June 4, 2020. (Xinhua/Meng Yongmin)  CBA president Yao Ming speaks during an interview with Chinese Central Television on June 4, 2020. (Xinhua/Meng Yongmin)

Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) president Yao Ming said he felt both excited and nervous about the league’s imminent resumption on Thursday.

“I’m excited because I have seen the hope and possibility of going back to normal. But at the same time I feel nervous, because there are many factors beyond our knowledge. We are always concerned about some details that we haven’t paid attention to,” Yao said in an interview with China Central Television.

The Chinese basketball icon admitted he still felt apprehensive about the resumption, especially given the new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Beijing over the past few days.

“But I trust my team and all the clubs. As long as we execute as planned, it will be under control in our competition sites,” he commented.

“Some people have concerns. It’s understandable because they take families into consideration, and that’s what we are trying to figure out.”

China’s basketball league is set to resume on Saturday. Qingdao in east China’s Shandong province and the southern city of Dongguan in Guangdong province have been selected as hosts for upcoming matches that will be played behind closed doors.

“We have never experienced it before. But our expectations overshadow anxiety toward some unpredictable challenges,” Yao said.

With many overseas players unable to return due to current restrictions on international travel, more than half of the teams have chosen to play with all-domestic rosters.

“Overseas and domestic players are all participants in the CBA who aim to make the game more spectacular. Overseas players are a part of the league, but not all. What I focus on is the games’ quality,” Yao noted.

The format of competition will see winners of the round of 12 matches and quarterfinals decided through a single game, while semifinals and the final will adopt a best-of-three format.

“From a sporting point of view, lower-ranked teams will get more opportunities,” said Yao.

Despite setbacks faced by Chinese basketball in recent years, Yao said he has unwavering confidence in the “CBA 2.0” initiative, which aims to upgrade the image of the league.

“We need to upgrade our financial and legal system for the league’s sustainable development,” Yao concluded.