NBA: Rockets and Pelicans to play in China in October

Rockets guard James Harden (left) playing against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 18.
Rockets guard James Harden (left) playing against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 18.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Houston Rockets, the former club of Chinese star Yao Ming, will make their first visit to China in 12 years when they face the New Orleans Pelicans next October in two NBA pre-season games.

The league announced on Tuesday that the 10th edition of NBA games in China would feature games October 9 in Shanghai and October 12 at Beijing.

Yao was playing for the Rockets when the team played in his hometown of Shanghai in 2004 before a sold-out crowd.

"Our entire Houston Rockets team is looking forward to returning to China, to compete and play our best basketball for our loyal and passionate fans," Rockets guard James Harden said.

"We are proud of the special bond our team has with the Chinese fans and we know the atmosphere at the games will be electrifying."

It will be the Rockets' fourth trip to China after visits in 2004, 2010 and 2013 while the Pelicans will make their first trip to China.

"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to play in front of the Chinese fans for the first time," said Pelicans forward Anthony Davis.

"During my past visits to China, I was amazed to see the fans' love and excitement for the game of basketball. Visiting Beijing and Shanghai and interacting with the Chinese fans is going to be an incredible experience to share with my coaches and teammates."

After the 2016 matchups, a total of 13 NBA clubs will have played 22 games in China and Taiwan since 2004, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Macau, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Taipei.