Li Yueru upbeat about Chinese players’ ­presence in WNBA

Li Yueru (left) of the Chicago Sky handles the ball during the game against the Las Vegas Aces on May 28, 2022 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. Photo: VCG

Li Yueru (left) of the Chicago Sky handles the ball during the game against the Las Vegas Aces on May 28, 2022 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. Photo: VCG

Fresh from a head-to-head match against her compatriot Han Xu in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Li Yueru feels that Chinese women’s basketball has earned recognition from the world’s elite league in recent years.

Li, drafted in the third round (35th overall) of the 2019 WNBA Draft, joined the defending champions Chicago Sky this season and arrived in the United States in late May. With Han already playing at the New York Liberty, Li’s arrival signaled the possibility of a highly anticipated duel between China’s top-level centers in the WNBA.

Han finished with 10 points, two rebounds, one steal and one block in their first head-to-head this season last Sunday, and Li scored two points from the free-throw line along with three rebounds and one assist.

“This is our first duel this season. I know that Chinese media, our teammates and friends have much anticipation toward this game. I’m also looking forward to it. I felt quite happy after the game as there are two Chinese players in the WNBA, which deserves much joy itself,” Li told Xinhua.

“The presence of more Chinese players in the WNBA showcases this world-class league’s recognition toward the development of Chinese women’s basketball in recent years, and this is the most important thing,” she added.

“For us, it’s good to compete and live with these top-caliber players, as it can motivate us to improve ­ourselves and play at a higher level with our ­national team,” Li concluded.

After having been in the United States for three weeks, Li admitted that she had been quite ­anxious in her new environment at the beginning.

“It felt like a mess for me. I was not used to it, as everything had to start from scratch, and I needed some time to get used to it. But I felt that my life here was on the right track from this week,” she said.

“I’m becoming more familiar with people, and learning more about the team’s tactical system. I’m sure things will get better.”

Before heading to the United States, Li wrote on social media that “it’s my dream to play in the WNBA. Through twists and turns, I’m on this flight to pursue my dream.”

“I have had different goals in these years and they have driven me forward. Because of these targets, I’m in the WNBA today. With these goals in my mind, I’m standing on the stage of my dreams,” Li noted.

“I’m not currently getting much playing time, so my primary goal is to play as well as possible in the limited opportunities I have on court. Then I hope to do as well as I can to fit the team’s tactical system,” she concluded.  

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