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Three-peat hero Weems eyes Marbury's mantle

China Daily | Updated: 2021-05-11 07:13
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Having helped the Southern Tigers win a historic 11th league title the previous weekend, Sonny Weems is eager to win more trophies with Guangdong and become the CBA's most-decorated American import.

"My goal is to win championships," Weems, who has collected three straight championships with Guangdong, told Xinhua. "I don't play for stats. I don't play for anything else. I only play for championships."

In the absence of Marshon Brooks and Yi Jianlian, Weems led the scoring for Guangdong with 29 points, adding 10 rebounds and eight assists, in Saturday's decisive Game 3 of the finals in Zhuji, Zhejiang province, where the Southern Tigers tamed the Liaoning Flying Leopards 2-1.

Weems also played a leading role in the previous season, averaging 34.7 points in the finals against Liaoning and winning the series' MVP award.

Now Weems wants to surpass compatriot Stephon Marbury, who led the Beijing Ducks to three league titles from 2012-15, by continuing to add to his trophy cabinet.

"I have all the respect for Stephon Marbury because he was one of the first international players that came over here and was really successful. He paved the way for players like me," said Weems.

"He has three championships. And my goal is to get four. And once I get four, I'll be considered the best American player to ever play in the CBA. And that is my goal."

Weems played for the Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, and spent several seasons with CSKA Moscow and BC Zalgiris in Europe before joining the Zhejiang Golden Bulls in 2017. He averaged 38.4 points in his first season in China, but Zhejiang narrowly missed the playoffs.

Since arriving in Guangdong in 2018, both his time on the court and points average have decreased. However, his experience has helped transform the Southern Tigers into serial winners.

"By scoring 30, 35 points, you can prove you're a good player, but your team doesn't win. Then the next year you're on a different team, you still don't win," said Weems. "I can score the basketball, but I can do everything else and it balances our team.

"When I need to, I can score more. But even if I do score a lot more, I'm still gonna get my teammates involved. That's the only way we're gonna win this. That's why we've been so good over the years because we trust each other.

"We trust our coaches and everyone is everywhere. Everyone in our team is involved with everything we do. Every player on the court touches the ball before we do anything."

Weems singled out Guangdong head coach Du Feng for special praise, especially the way he has united the squad.

"I feel that this team here is really a family. No matter where we come from, no matter what color we are, I really think this team is a family," said the 34-year-old.

"He's one of the greatest guys that I have ever met in my life. He's a real friend to me. Ever since I've got here, he's treated me wonderfully.

"He doesn't coach every play. He trusts his players to do their job. I have nothing but respect for Du Feng. He's a great coach. I would love to play with him anywhere."



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