June 19, 2020 / 3:36 AM / 25 days ago

Yao says he is excited, nervous ahead of CBA restart

(Reuters) - Former Houston Rockets centre Yao Ming said the resumption of China’s top flight basketball league on Saturday following disruption caused by the novel coronavirus had made him both excited and nervous.

FILE PHTO: Former NBA basketball player and delegate to the CPPCC Yao Ming arrives for the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 3, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league, which began in November, was halted on Feb. 1 due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 4,600 people in mainland China.

The CBA said this month that remaining games would be held in Qingdao city, Shandong province, and Dongguan city, Guangdong province, with no fans present.

“I’m excited because I have seen the hope and possibility of going back to normal,” Yao, who is the CBA president, told CCTV.

“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.

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

Most of the 20 teams in the league had played 30 regular-season matches when the season was suspended.

Several clubs will be without their overseas players as they are unable to return to China because of travel restrictions.

“Overseas and domestic players are all participants in the CBA who aim to make the game more spectacular,” Yao said.

“Overseas players are a part of the league, but not all. What I focus on is the games’ quality.”

Winners of the round of 12 and quarter-final matches will be decided through a single match. The semi-finals and final will be played in a best-of-three format.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel

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