Monday, November 18, 2013, 07:47
Moore takes aim at another WCBA title
By Xinhua in Taiyuan, Shanxi province

Moore takes aim at another WCBA title
Shanxi Xingrui forward Maya Moore showcases the form that led to some big numbers in her debut in the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association last season. Moore averaged 37.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in leading Shanxi to the WCBA championship. (Yu Wei / for China Daily)

Rival teams will have a hard time stopping mercurial Shanxi forward

Spearheaded by sharpshooting Maya Moore, upstart Shanxi Xingrui stormed to the 2012-13 Women’s Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA) championship.

In her first five games, Moore averaged a double-double and 45.5 points. In a sensational outing against Yunnan, she notched 60 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks and 5 steals .

The 24-year-old forward from Jefferson City, Missouri, finished the season averaging 37.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game,

It seems whatever Moore touches turns to gold.

In 2009 and 2010 she led the University of Connecticut to back-to-back NCAA championships, then was selected No 1 overall by the Minnesota Lynx of the Women’s National Basketball Association and helped the team win the 2011 WNBA crown.

When she’s not playing in the US, Moore has gone global. She led Spanish Ros Casares Valencia to the Euroleague title before pacing Shanxi to the WCBA crown.

Last month Moore helped the Lynx sweep the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA finals for her second league championship in the three years.

Now she wants more.

“We are trying to get back to the championship,” she said of returning to Shanxi. “I’m excited to get going again. It’s gonna be a really tough year, with a lot of competition for every team.”

Besides Moore, Shanxi’s returning regulars include Zhang Wei, Yu Dong, Guan Xin, Zhang Yu and Wu Di. They’ll be joined by several newcomers, including Japanese point guard Ohga Yuko, who is replacing retired South Korean Jung Sun-min.

Last season, Moore and Zhejiang’s Australian center Elizabeth Cambage grabbed most of the spotlight among foreign players by leading their teams to the finals.

With Cambage joining  Beijing this season, a new rivalry could emerge between Moore and Brittney Griner, the 2013 WNBA top draft pick who has taken Cambage’s spot on the Zhejiang roster.

Zhejiang made several other off-season acquisitions, as well as extending the contract of former Chinese national player Bian Lan and recruiting Gao Song, who shone at the Asian championship, and Wu Jinzhu, last season’s WCBA finals MVP.

But a shadow was cast over Zhejiang when six players, including veterans Bian and Chen Xiaoli, refused to train, accusing head coach Li Xin of verbally abusing them. The club responded by indefinitely suspending the players.

Zhejiang isn’t the only team gunning for Shanxi’s crown.

Guangdong, which recruited Tamika Catchings, the 2012 WNBA finals MVP,  hopes to bounce back from last season’s first-round playoff elimiantion.

Guangdong recruited 2012 WNBA top draft pick Nneka Ogwumike, marking the third straight season the WNBA’s No 1 pick has joined the WCBA.

In Heilongjiang, Lauren Jackson, an Australian center, will complement high-scoring Ji Yanyan in the paint.

Veterans Miao Lijie and Chen Nan will lead Shenyang Army and Bayi respectively — two teams that expect to improve thanks to an influx of young players.

Shenyang Army’s Li Meng, 18, who exhibited offensive talent in the East Asian Games, will partner with Zhao Shuang, who showed solid defense at the Asian championship.

Bayi’s new hope is Lu Wen, who finished with 24 points without any turnovers in her Asian championship debut.

The 2013-14 WCBA schedule opens on Tuesday whenShanxi plays host to Bayi.