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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 21:16 GMT 22:16 UK
Amaechi ready for take-off
By Andrew McKenzie

John Amaechi
Britain's John Amaechi is looking forward to a fresh start after being traded from the Utah Jazz to their Texas rivals the Houston Rockets.

Amaechi's frustrating two-year stay in Utah was brought to an end when he was sent to the Rockets in a multi-player trade that saw Glen Rice go in the opposite direction.

"I'm thrilled with the move," he told the BBC Sport website. "I'm excited to be in Houston to play with this team - they seem like a good crew.

"I'm looking forward to a fresh start - an opportunity to play again and being in a position where every night my role will be important - that's where it should have been.

"I wasn't really having an opportunity to do anything in Utah - I felt quite useless at times."

After two successful seasons with the Orlando Magic Amaechi arrived in Utah with high hopes.

But he fell out with Utah coach Jerry Sloan and ended up being used only sparingly during his two years in Salt Lake City.

He is looking forward to the opportunity of getting some court time after averaging just over 10 minutes under Sloan

"Houston coach Jeff van Gundy is very keen and so I'm very happy the move has happened," he added.

I think he's an exceptional player and it will be a lot of fun to play with him
Amaechi on Yao Ming
"Jeff is very intense - he lives and breathes winning.

"He's a big fan of mine from my time in Orlando so he knows what I can do from there.

"I actually feel like a person at the end of the day now and I even smile in practise, which is an interesting experience."

Amaechi is likely to play back-up centre to one of the game's biggest attractions - 7ft 6in Chinese superstar Yao Ming.

The 22-year-old Ming entered the league last season after becoming the first overseas player to be picked first in the NBA draft and quickly emerged as one of the game's brightest stars.

"I think he's an exceptional player and it will be a lot of fun to play with him," Amaechi added.

"Steve Francis is also a phenomenal player and individually they have a lot of talent - some of whom don't get the same kind of mention as Yao and Steve.

"I think it is going to be a good year."





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