Star guard aims for top performance 1

Chinese national basketball team players pose for photos on Thursday in Beijing. Photo: Deng Xiaoci/GT

Arguably the best guard in Asia, Chinese men’s national basketball team’s star player Guo Ailun told the Global Times Thursday he is ready to help Team ­China to produce the best game they have got at the upcoming FIBA World Cup on home soil.

Guo made the remarks during an ­exclusive interview with the Global Times on Thursday, on the sidelines of an event in Beijing, during which the national team unveiled their brand-new jersey designs for the first-ever FIBA World Cup to be held in eight Chinese cities from August 31 to September 15.

Star guard aims for top performance 2

Chinese national basketball team players pose for photos on Thursday in Beijing. Photo: Deng Xiaoci/GT

Hosts China have been drawn in Group A along with Cote d’Ivoire, ­Poland and Venezuela. They will play their group matches in Beijing, while possibly meeting teams from Group B – Russia, Argentina, Nigeria and South Korea – in the first knockout stage.

Guo played for the national team for the first time in 2010, and now he has not only grown into one of the most ­invincible playmakers and scorers in the national team starting lineup, but also has garnered phenomenal online ­popularity with some 3.2 million ­followers on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo. 

Star guard aims for top performance 3

Guo Ailun Photo: Deng Xiaoci/GT

“I am no longer the youngest ‘little baby’ on the team and I have learned to be thick-skinned, hold my composure despite the critical noises from media or outsiders. I focus on every play and every game, and I desire to win always,” Guo said. 

In 2015, the 1.92-meter-tall point guard, who scored the highest score of 19 points at the Asian Championship final, carrying the Chinese team back to the top of Asian basketball, was also named in the tournament’s All-Star Five. Ever since then he was often referred to as “Asia’s best guard.”

During Thursday interview, Guo declined the nickname saying that “there is no such trophy for Asia’s best. You can call me that after I get one someday, if any. I would prefer to be considered as a nominee for the top 10 best-looking men.”

“Only when I am playing on court can I channel that kind of confidence to win all the time,” Guo said.

The mature yet young star also admitted “I still cannot overcome my nervousness when playing for the national team, because I care about such an honor too much to be totally relaxed.”

Star guard aims for top performance 4

Former NBA stars Scottie Pippen (left) and Jason Kidd at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday Photo: Deng Xiaoci/GT

The Chinese team participated and played in five games at the NBA Summer League Las Vegas this year in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. The experience improved the team in terms of game play and increased the team members’ understandings, Guo said. 

Guo, who also starred in reality and entertainment shows from time to time over the summer, was once in hot water with criticism that such a side business would affect his game.

Guo dismissed the doubts while saying that “participating in the entertainment business is educational,” a part of life and he was free to choose how to spend his spare time.

“It won’t affect my professional performance on court at all,” he said.