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Bo Liu from the Shenzhen Leopards has signed to play the 2016-17 season with the Sydney Kings as a development player. The NBL recently changed its rules allowing clubs to sign players born within the FIBA Asia Zone, without clubs losing one of its three import spots.
The ability to sign Chinese players will undoubtedly strengthen the NBL by bringing in new talent and creating closer relationships with China and all of its potential resources and spectators. Basketball has always been hugely popular in China since it was first introduced in 1895. More than 300 million people play basketball regularly in China, and an estimated 300 million people watch games.
Two teams from the Chinese Basketball Association will participate in the NBL's preseason tournament, the Australian Basketball Challenge. Zhejiang CB Golden Bulls and Tianjin Ronggang will play, as well as all 8 NBL teams. The preseason tournament on 23-26 September in Brisbane will be streamed live into China which is a great opportunity to showcase the NBL's teams and players to an increasingly important market. The introduction of the Chinese teams to the tournament will also be a boon for Australian audiences who will get to see their teams compete at an international level.
The Sydney Kings play their first game for the 2016-17 season on 8 October against the Brisbane Bullets.