Thursday, October 14, 1999

TAIWAN STAR CHENG CHIH-LUNG TO PLAY IN CHINA

CHENG CHIH-LUNG, who was dubbed by ABC as Asian's best all-around player in 1998, has signed a one-season contract with China's Shanghai Sharks(Hilton League). Cheng officially announced the signing in the press cenference on October 11.

One of Taiwan's most celebrated basketball players to date, Cheng cited he wants to bring his talent to the competitive Chinese league, since Taiwan's CBA is still in the middle of the re-structure and failed time and again to find its direction.

"Money is one thing, but the most important reason for me to go out there is to prove myself and to keep working on my game.", Cheng said during the conference.

It's believed that Cheng signed with Sharks thru the help of SINAnet president Jiang Fong-Nian, who was rumored to be interested in being the minority owner of the Sharks. Cheng's monthly salary is believed to be in an estimate range of 8000-10000 USD, a lot higher than the Chinese local players.

Cheng will have a chance to join 18 year-old phenom Yao Ming, an agile 7-6 center who is in the attention by numerous U.S. college and pro teams, and make the Sharks a contending team in the Hilton League right away. He is expected to be in the starting lineup from day one.

Cheng will play with Shanghai from November to next April, then go back to Taiwan and consider his next move--whether it's signing with his former team Hong-kuo Elephants or moving on to Dacin Tigers, finishing last in the CBA in three consecutive seasons.

Many Taiwan players are ready to follow Cheng's footsteps. Liaoning Hunters, which finished second in the Hilton League last season, is said to be interested in 6-7 F/C HUANG CHUN-HSIUNG. And Huang did not rule out the possibility to go to China. Meantime, several players, led by 198cm NT center CHU CHIH-CHIN, will play in Singapore in the next few months.

Taiwanese players' exodus will probably speed up the CBA's clueless re-stucture, most believed.

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