Sports / Basketball

Rockets, Pelicans ready for battle

By Sun Xiaochen in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2016-10-08 07:25

Rockets, Pelicans ready for battle

American basketball star James Harden of Houston Rockets takes part in a training session for the Shanghai match of the 2016 NBA China Games in Shanghai, China, Oct 7, 2016. [Photo/IC] 

The Rockets' leader James Harden said it is very special for his players to experience first hand the deep connection that exists between Houston and China, thanks to Yao.

"We are proud of the special bond our team has with the Chinese fans, and we know the atmosphere at the games will be electrifying," said the two-time All-NBA First Team player.

The Rockets newly-appointed head coach Mike D'Antoni is also looking forward to putting on a show for the fans while assessing his regrouped roster.

"The main thing is to have a good product and a good show for the Chinese fans. We used it as a training camp. We want to get better and play some young guys to see if they could help us later on and whom to keep on the team," said D'Antoni, who was named the Rockets' head coach on June 1.

"Winning will be great, but it's not the main thing that we'd like to do. It's important for us to play well and to play a lot of people. We will spend the eight days working in practices but also enjoying the two cities."

As a relatively lower-profile team in China, the Pelicans expect to build their own connection with Chinese basketball fans.

"It's always fun to play in another country, especially in China where basketball is very heavy. To play there in front of fans who probably have never had chances to see us play live before is a fun experience," said the Pelicans' three-time All Star Anthony Davis.

He continued: "I have been to China a couple of times already. It's amazing. Any time you have a chance to explore, to something different, like in China, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When you get a chance to build the connection with whoever it is, it's always good."

Apart from the two games, the Global Games China 2016 will feature a variety of off-court activities, including the fifth Fan Appreciation Day presented by Dongfeng Nissan in Shanghai on Friday.

Thousands of local fans participated in on-court games and watched the Rockets and Pelicans practice drills.

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