SEM Phoenix Sign 7'1 Chinese Star
In a monumental deal that looks set to take South East Melbourne Phoenix global, the team have announced the signing of Chinese superstar Zhou Qi (Jo Chi) to a two year deal.
The second year of the deal is a player option.
Phoenix owner Romie Chaudhari described the signing as ground-breaking and a signal to the NBL the Phoenix are all in.
“Signing a Chinese player of Zhou’s credentials is a landmark move for the Phoenix and the NBL. Bringing Zhou to the NBL further expands the league and the club’s international presence - this signing makes the Phoenix a real player on the global stage,” he said.
Drafted by the Houston Rockets at pick 43 in the 2016 NBA Draft, the 7 foot 1 centre has been a regular Chinese national team member since making his debut in 2014.
“I’m excited to be joining the South East Melbourne Phoenix, I felt my best chance of getting back to the NBA was to join the Phoenix,” Zhou said.
“The whole process has been one of the more professional of my career, I’m very grateful to owner Romie Chaudhari and CEO Tommy Greer for making my decision such an easy one.”
The Chinese connections for the Phoenix go back to their inaugural season. The team's first games came during a pre-season tour to China, while their first competitive game on Australian soil was against Chinese CBA team in the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions.
“It’s nice for me to join a team who represents an area with such a strong and vibrant Chinese community,” Zhou said.
Zhou, who signed with the Phoenix under the NBL’s special restricted player rule, will join the team in Australia as soon as the visa process is complete, and flights are organised.
(Zhou in action for the Houston Rockets)
He will join his national team for the November 22 to November 30 World Cup Qualifying period, then return to the Phoenix.
Hungry Jack’s NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said: “We are thrilled that Zhou Qi has chosen to play in the NBL with the Phoenix.
“To have a player of Zhou’s calibre come to the NBL speaks volumes of the league’s standing in global basketball.
“Earlier this week Chinese national team member Chuanxing Liu signed with the Brisbane Bullets and Zhou’s signing reaffirms the NBL as a prime destination for Chinese players looking to make the next step in their career.”
Zhou returned to the Chinese Basketball Association for the 2019-20 season where he averaged 20.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game.
“At 7 foot 1 Zhou’s skill set is something we haven’t had before, we think he can help us cement our position at the top of the NBL this year,” Phoenix CEO Tommy Greer said.
“His dream is to get back to the NBA and we’ll do everything we can to help him achieve that. With our starting point guard from last year Keifer Sykes starting training camp with the Indiana Pacers this week, we’ve shown as a club we can make that happen.
“Not only is it a fantastic signing for us as a team, it’s a game changing addition to the NBL.
“Zhou is an absolute superstar in China and to have him in the NBL is enormous. Zhou joining the NBL will literally add millions and millions of eyeballs to our team and the league.”
At 25-years-old Zhou has already built a solid resume winning a CBA championship title in 2017, a FIBA Asia Cup championship in 2015 and a gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games with the Chinese National Basketball team.
Zhou joins a Phoenix lineup that includes Xavier Munford, Cam Gliddon, Ryan Broekhoff, Mitch Creek, Kyle Adnam, Izayah Le’afa, Dane Pineau, Reuben Te Rangi and Tohi Smith-Milner.
Phoenix Media (08/09/2021)