Yi Jianlian on new CBA season: Focus on every game


Chinese basketball player Yi Jianlian. (Photo: VCG)

Yi Jianlian, China's No. 1 basketball player will lead the Guangdong Southern Tigers to meet the challenging Liaoning Flying Leopards in the opener of the 2019-20 CBA season at the Dongguan Basketball Center on Friday night. Before the game, Yi shared his thoughts on a series of issues in an interview with Tencent Sports.

This will be the 18th season of Yi's career, does he ever feel tired?

"Of course I do. Every day I want to sleep until I wake up naturally instead of being waken up for the training," said Yi, "Like everybody else, I need a target to work towards in my life, on the court or at work. It requires something you love to do and a passionate working attitude to make your life even better instead of a waste of time."

Both the Flying Leopards and the Southern Tigers have won CBA championships. This summer, the Flying leopards landed former NBA starting player Lance Stephenson who already sent a letter of challenge to the Southern Tigers: "We are gonna beat them in the opener!"

"We already won the ninth title last season and we have expectations for this one. We will do everything we can to defend our throne…it's always harder to defend championship than to win one. I think for a long time, we will have a target on our back. Every opponent will pay extra attention to us and spend more time studying our games. A season is very long and we need to focus on preparing for every game," said Yi.

As China's leader after Yao Ming, Yi already has a glorious career. He played the World Championships, the World Cup, the Summer Olympics; he played four seasons in the NBA; he has five CBA Championships, three CBA Finals MVPs and four CBA Domestic MVPs under his name. Nonetheless, Yi never ceased to improve himself. What is his motivation that keeps him moving forward?

"All athletes want the same thing, the best result. A basketball player needs to think how to help his team win the game, win the title. He needs to think how to do his job. Every game matters and every detail is related to the team's future."

Yi will chase his sixth CBA Championship ring in the new season. When asked what the most important thing is for a team to defend their title, Yi answered: "It's not a good thing to be obsessed with thinking how to defend a championship before you even play a single game. Teams change in the season and must adapt to the changes. We need to focus on every game."