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Long Lions’ Ray unfazed with new-found fame

KUALA LUMPUR: Chen Ying-chun – otherwise known as just Ray Chen – is the new poster boy of Taiwan basketball.
The 25-year-old was a standout for the Taiwan selection at the William Jones Cup in July, averaging 20.4 points from eight games.
Ray, of Miaoli County, drew attention when he became the No. 1 draft pick for the Guangzhou Securities Long Lions in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) last month.
This was despite the Liberty University graduate managing an average of only 1.7 points per game in his senior year.
He shot to fame when he scored 26 points to help Taiwan beat South Korea in the World University Games in Taipei last month.
Despite the new-found fame, the pony-tailed 1.83m-tall guard is more focused on building a successful career with the Long Lions – his first professional gig.
“There is a lot of media hype back home, but that’s not really my focus,” said Ray.
“I’m more focused on putting in the hard work and doing well with my new team, since it’s my first professional club.
“The pressure is there for sure but I try not to get affected. I prefer to work on fitting in well.
“And there’s certainly a lot of work ahead because most of us haven’t trained together much.”
Ray was right about the Long Lions needing to work harder after the defending champions of the Seri Mutiara Cup suffered a 77-51 hammering at the hands of Croatian outfit KK Split in their first in Group B match at the Maba Stadium yesterday.
Duane Michaelyn was the star performer for the Croats with 22 points. The Long Lions’ top scorer was Luo Xudong with 12 points.
“We had some visa issues with a couple of import players, so we’re not really at full strength,” said Long Lions head coach Cui Wanjun.
“I’m pleased with the team’s spirit despite the loss. This tournament is a good opportunity to work on our weaknesses and I’m confident we’ll get better with each game.”
In another Group B match, Malaysia’s NS Matrix beat Taiwan’s Fubon Brave 100-91.
In Group A, the Stephon Marbury-led Beijing Fly Dragons got off to a flying start – thumping the Changwon LG Sakers of South Korea 82-69.
The 40-year-old Marbury, a former NBA All-Star, took his time to get into high gear and finish with 19 points. Another former NBA cager Shavlik Randolph top scored with 23 points.
Japan’s B.League champions Link Tochigi Brex also enjoyed a winning start by beating Kano Pillars of Nigeria 75-69.
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