Lure of the Yuan: the Aussie big men dominating in China
Jo Lual-Acuil, Duop Reath and Thon Maker are making a big impression in China.
There has been a growing trend over recent years where the Australian NBL has been able to lure rising Chinese basketball stars down under. Zhou Qi’s return for the 2022-23 season with the South East Melbourne Phoenix ensured China is represented in the league once again. And while the flow of talent has been trickling from China to Australia, for the first time we have seen the movement of players from down under to the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) for the first time.
Former Melbourne United star Jo Lual-Acuil and the Illawarra Hawk’s Australian Boomers Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Duop Reath were signed by teams in the CBA, a league that has a long history in attracting import NBA players nearing the end of their careers — think Stephon Marbury, Tracey McGrady and J.R. Smith, with the lure of large salaries the carrot. Joining them this season is Thon Maker, who after stints in the NBA with the Bucks, Pistons and Cavaliers, before more recently playing with Hapoel Jerusalem in Europe and the Long Island Nets in the NBA G League, looks to reinvigorate his career.
All three big men have started off the season strongly, and we take a look at their early season performances.
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