Basketball: Arrested UCLA players returning from China

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President Donald Trump raised the case of the three US basketball players arrested in China with Chinese President Xi Jinping

Three American college
basketball players arrested in China for shoplifting are returning home,
a league official said Tuesday, after President Donald Trump intervened
on their behalf. UCLA players LiAngelo Ball — the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie star Lonzo Ball
— and teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were on a flight to Los
Angeles, the commissioner of the Pacific-12 conference, Larry Scott,
said in a statement.

“The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities” and the trio were allowed to leave Hangzhou, where they were detained a week ago, Scott said.
“We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university,” Scott said.
We are grateful for the role that our Chinese hosts played, and for the courtesy and professionalism of the local authorities,” he added.
Scott thanked Trump, the White House and the State Department for their assistance in resolving the case.
Trump said he personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to intervene on behalf of the three players during his two-day state visit to Beijing last week.
“What
they did was unfortunate,” Trump said. “You know, you’re talking about
very long prison sentences. They (the Chinese authorities) do not play
games.”
Ball, Riley and Hill were arrested in Hangzhou ahead of a scheduled game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai.
According
to ESPN, they were nabbed on suspicion of stealing from a Louis Vuitton
store and later freed on bail but ordered to remain in Hangzhou.
The UCLA and Georgia Tech squads were in Hangzhou for a side trip to the headquarters of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Shoplifting can bring jail time in China depending on the value of the goods.
UCLA,
one of the most storied names in US college basketball with 11 men’s
NCAA championships, won Saturday’s game in Shanghai 63-60 without the
three players. The rest of the team flew home afterwards.
Besides
coinciding with Trump’s visit, the case drew attention in the United
States due to the involvement of Ball, one of three high-profile
basketball-playing sons of LaVar Ball.
The
elder Ball has become a media personality by aggressively promoting his
sons as future NBA superstars and had travelled to China on the trip to
promote his Big Baller Brand shoe and apparel line.

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