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15 November 2018 | in FISU Athletes, 3x3 Basketball, World University League, 3x3 World University League

Athlete in Focus: 3x3 Star Zheng Yi

Chinese Highschool All-Star says basketball is in his blood

 

“I loved basketball even before I was born!” says towering Zheng Yi, star player of the Huaqiao University squad that is in action at the ongoing 3x3 FISU World University League Finals.

Speaking to FISU on the sidelines of the event, he explains what he means. “I think I must have had some antenatal training too, because my father was a big basketball fan and he had lots of information to share about how to be a good basketball player.”

 

The antenatal training clearly worked, because Yi is not just part of the Huaqiao University 3x3 team, but also a member of the Chinese national U-23 team. In fact, he is the only college student in that national squad.

 

“When I was young, my father used to take me to watch a lot of basketball games,” he continues telling us about his basketball-steeped childhood. “My father used to play too, and I would go to all his games. That was till I was 15 years old. Then, I was selected to play for our provincial team.”

 

The provincial team at age fifteen, was no mean feat. The province of Fujian, China, has a difficult selection process and the physical and mental tests can be tough on a teenager. For Yi though, it seems it was exactly what he needed.

 

When he was 17 years old, Yi got a chance to take part in the National Games of the People’s Republic of China. The same year, he was selected in the Chinese Highschool Basketball League’s All-Star Team. He’s been playing competitions and touring the globe ever since.

 

“Basketball gave me friends from all over the world!” says a delighted Yi. “Also, the teamwork gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

 

While he plays both formats of the sport, he says he prefers 3x3 to regular basketball. “When playing 3x3, I feel stronger physical confrontation and I believe better skills are required than in regular basketball games.”

 

He got his first taste of 3x3 atthe inaugural edition of the 3x3 FISU World University League in Xiamen, back in 2015. He also speaks fondly of his experience at the 2017 edition, last year.

 

“I still remember the competition against the university from St. Petersburg, Russia,” he reminisces. “The winner of that match was going to the quarter finals.  I tried my best to move, to pass the ball, to shoot. Finally, we won and got our name into the quarter finals.”

 

One can understand the sense of pride and achievement as that quarterfinal finish was Huaqiao University’s best ever performance in the WUL Finals and Yi got 13 points in that match.

 

“I feel that game gave me lots of confidence. And I think the FISU World University League Finals were the key in my selection to the national team! When I was young, I wanted to be a player who could wear the national team kit with the  country’s national flag.”

 

When one tells him his wish came true, he responds saying, “It’s the most beautiful uniform in the world!”

 

So, are his basketball idols also Chinese? Not really. His favourite player is Black Mamba – Kobe Bryant. “That man has the best basketball skill in the world,” he says with obvious delight. “He won five NBA champion rings, and he is also the most handsome guy in NBA! I’ve learned about perseverance and a hard-working spirit from Kobe and also respect for the adversary. I will keep trying to have these values and do my best in the 3x3 basketball arena.”

 

We wish him all the best!

 

(With inputs from Huo Xiaohan in Xiamen)