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Kings take advantage of new NBL rule

The Sydney Kings have signed 6’9 (207cm) forward Bo Liu, from Chinese team, Shenzhen Leopards, making him the first NBL player signing under the new non-restricted Asian player ruling. He will join the Kings for the 2016-17 season on contract as a Development Player, via a loan deal from Shenzen negotiated by Managing Director Jeff Van Groningen. The Kings, utilising the recent NBL rule change that sees players born within the FIBA Asia zone considered non-restricted (as per Australian and New Zealand-born players), now have nine contracted NBL players and three contracted Development Players, including Bo, on their roster. “The Sydney Kings welcome Bo Liu to our organisation and we are truly excited to be part of such a significant partnership. Working with the Shenzen Leopards has been fantastic – basketball provides a unifying force between organisations and indeed nations,' Van Groningen said. "We cannot stress how grateful we are to Shenzen and the CBA that we can play a part in working with one of their young players. Bo is a terrific young man who will bring some great attributes to the Kings organisation”. Bo Liu’s deal with the Kings is part of wider plans at the NBL level to engage with China and its prestigious CBA league. China is home to more than 300 million registered basketball players and its passion for the game is well-chronicled. Last week, the NBL announced plans for its new pre-season competition, the Australian Basketball Challenge (ABC), to run in Brisbane from September 23rd to 26th. In an exciting development two CBA clubs – Zhejiang CB Golden Bulls and Tianjin Ronggang, will compete at the event, attended by all eight NBL clubs. “The ABC’s integration of two CBA teams combined with the Kings’ signing of Bo Liu are strong examples of an exciting time in Australian basketball as our sport moves forward at a rapid rate”, Van Groningen added. Kings’ Head Coach Andrew Gaze has spent time with Bo Liu over the last six months. “He’s a high energy guy, runs the floor really well and is super aggressive on the defensive end. Having played for Brian Goorjian in China as well as working with Nik Popovic, both friends of ours at the club, we know Bo's fundamentals are sound. He picks things up quickly and has a great work ethic. Bo is a quality young guy with a great sense of humour". In Bo Liu’s mind, fate had a part to play in Andrew becoming his coach, and appreciates the unique personality of Australian basketball’s biggest name. “I like Andrew’s style a lot because on court he’s really serious. He gets very angry and furious and demonstrative, telling us what to do. He’s very strict. But off court he makes funny jokes, talks about everything. And he jokes around with me. That type of personality is something different to the type of coaches I’ve so far had in China”. Liu has experienced elite level competition for a number of years, having represented China at the world junior championships in 2013 where his team lost in the semi-final to the Australian team that was led by Dante Exum and Ben Simmons. Liu’s parents have also represented China at the highest levels; his father was a professional wrestler and his mother a professional kayaker. The significance of this signing is reflected when considering the strength of the of the Chinese population in Sydney. The city is home to more Chinese-born people than any other Australian city, with more than 8 per cent of the population identify as having Chinese ancestry, according to official ABS statistics.
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