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Jonquel Jones And Flame Win Season Opener In China

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Jonquel Jones

By RENALDO DORSETT

Tribune Sports Reporter

rdorsett@tribunemedia.net

JONQUEL Jones looks to continue her momentum from the WNBA to the Women's Chinese Basketball Association.

Her Shanxi Flame got the season off to an impressive start with a 92-52 win over Heilongjiang in the season opener yesterday.

They got out to a 24-14 advantage after the first quarter and never relinquished the lead in the lopsided route. Defensively, they limited Heilongjiang to just eight points in the second quarter and took a 43-22 lead at the half.

The WCBA is the top-tier professional women's basketball league in China and is the women's counterpart to the Chinese Basketball Association.

Shanxi Flame became notable internationally when the Minnesota Lynx perennial All-Star Maya Moore joined the club for the 2012-2013 season. The Flame followed by winning three consecutive WCBA championships.

The 2017-18 WCBA will include a 26-round regular season and playoffs, as well as All-Star weekend on January 20, 2018. The league expanded by two clubs this year to bring the total number of teams to 14.

The top eight teams will advance to the playoffs.

Many of Jones' Connecticut Sun teammates have already began their offseason commitments as well.

Jones will be joined in China by teammate Lynetta Kizer, who will be spending the offseason with Shandong Sports Lottery and Morgan Tuck with Shaanxi.

For the second consecutive season, Alyssa Thomas will return to South Korea as a member of the Samsung Life Blue and Shekinna Stricklen will return to the Korean League for the third time with Jones' old club, Woori Bank.

Jones' last offseason propelled her into becoming the WNBA's Most Improved Player, an All-Star and an All-WNBA Second Team selection, leaving fans and pundits eager to see what this offseason will bring.

Jones was selected No. 5 overall by Woori Bank in last July's Draft following the completion of the WNBA season. She ended her time in the Korean Basketball League with one of her best games of the season and a championship title for her club. She posted 27 points, 25 rebounds and three blocks in an 83-72 win for Woori Bank over the Samsung Life Blue Minx to complete a three-game sweep and claim the 2017 title, the fifth consecutive for the club.

Jones was particularly dominant in the finals where she averaged 15.3 points and 23 rebounds per game.

On the season she averaged 15.8 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks - all team leads - in 24 minutes per game for Woori Bank in 38 games. She also shot 55 per cent from the field, 39 per cent from three. They finished the year 36-2 and undefeated on the road.

At the league's award ceremony, Jones earned the Foreign Most Valuable Player Award, Defensive Player of the Year award and was named "Best Five" in the league.

Her performance led WNBA general managers to vote Jones as the players most likely to have a breakout season in the WNBA.

Jones finished the year averaging 15.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per game - a dramatic increase from her rookie season when she averaged 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

She also set a new WNBA single-season record with 403 rebounds for the season and added 20 double-doubles.

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