Chinese center Li Yueru makes WNBA debut in Sky’s defeat to Aces

WASHINGTON — Chinese center Li Yueru had her maiden appearance in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) as the Chicago Sky suffered an 83-76 defeat at the hands of the Las Vegas Aces on Saturday.,Li shot 0 of 2 from the field and scored two points from free throw line, adding three rebounds, one steal and one block in 4:25 of action.,”Instant. Impact. Welcome to the league, Li!” the Sky tweeted while posting a video of Li making a steal in the third quarter.,”I was a bit nervous when stepping on the court, thus failing to make an open shot,” Li admitted in a phone interview with Xinhua after the game.,”I want to do well in rebounding and defending at first. I need to build better chemistry with my teammates,” she said.,Despite trailing 22-23 as the first quarter ran out, the Aces built a 13-point halftime lead through a 29-15 second quarter. The Sky could not turn the tide afterward.,A’ja Wilson contributed a game-high 22 points and 16 rebounds in the Aces’ sixth straight victory. Dearica Hamby added 14 points and 14 boards.,The Sky shot 34.6% (28 of 81) from the floor, and 5 of 31 from beyond the arc. Courtney Vandersloot and Kahleah Copper scored 12 points apiece.,Li set off from China last Saturday to play for the reigning WNBA champions Sky.,Before her departure, Li described playing in the WNBA as her “dream”, and was exhilarated that she made it.,”Through twists and turns, I’m on this flight of dreams to pursue my dream,” she wrote on Weibo.,The 23-year-old center was drafted by the Atlanta Dream in the third round (35th overall) of the 2019 WNBA Draft. The Los Angeles Sparks acquired her rights in February 2022, and the Chicago Sky later acquired the rights in March.,Li was confident in fitting physical contact in the WNBA. “I’m not quite unaccustomed to the level of competitiveness, and I don’t feel that I’m in an inferior position in terms of physical contact,” she said.,Before heading to the United States, Li expressed her readiness to embrace the challenges. “Maybe I cannot fully exploit my skills in a new and unfamiliar environment, but I will go all out to live up to people’s expectations and support,” she wrote on social media.,Another Chinese center, Han Xu has averaged 10.8 points and 4.3 rebounds for the New York Liberty in four appearances so far this season.