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China keen to get hot Down Under

05-06-2011 15:43 BJT

Two years ago, the Chinese men's basketball team, the 14-time Asian champion, was humiliated by Iran 70-52 in the regional final in Tianjin. The Asian Championship returns to China in September in Wuhan, Hubei province, and the home side is keen on revenge with a helping hand from Australia.

Bob Donewald Jr (R), head coach of the China men's basketball team, will lead the side
during a training stint in Australia next month as well as friendly matches with the
Australian national team as a tune-up for the Asian Championship in September in Wuhan,
Hubei province. [Photo by Zhongti/China Daily]

At the end of June, the Chinese team will train and then play two or three warm-up matches against Australia's men's team in Perth, Australia, and Singapore.

China and Australia have attached great importance to the event as many Australian dignitaries were present at the launch of the basketball exchange, including the Lieutenant Governor of Western Australia Kim Hames, Australian Cultural and Public Affairs Counselor to China Jill Collins, the chief of Western Australia's tourism administration, Stephanie Buckland, and former Australia basketball star and CEO of RV Sports Company Andrew Vlahov. Zhang Xiong, the assistant secretary general of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), also attended the function in Beijing on Wednesday.

To strengthen communication and cooperation in culture and sports between the countries, the campaign, named "Chinese-Australian Basketball Friendly Match", has garnered support from the Western Australia government and the Australian Embassy in China. It has been included in the "China-Australia Culture Year" series of activities; carrying the mission of spreading basketball and national friendship between the countries.

Collins pointed out, in fluent Chinese, that the friendly games would be a catalyst for cultural exchange and cooperation between the nations.

As host of the event, Western Australian officials have placed special attention on the showdown. Hames said while trade, tourism and cultural exchanges between China and Australia had improved relations between the countries, sport also had an important role to play.

He also said basketball fans in Western Australia were expecting an extremely competitive game between two teams that are evenly matched.

Vlahov, the CEO of RV Sports Company and a former top Australian representative, said he hoped the games would provide solid training platforms for the Chinese and Australians and also contribute to a long-term basketball friendship between the countries.

Training journey for Asian Championship

With more and more basketball links between China and Australia in recent years, the two teams, which are the most influential in the Asia-Pacific region, have made great improvements.

The Australian team, whose nickname is the "Boomers" (meaning large kangaroo), is the top side in Oceania. It finished seventh at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. With a tough style and teamwork, it blends European strategy with American skill.

The Boomers have a number of members playing in the NBA including Andrew Bogut, the star center of the Milwaukee Bucks. Australia is ranked No 9 in the world while China is a place behind in 10th.

"However, the overall strength of the Australian team is still well above China, so it will be of great benefit for us to play such an opponent," CBA chief official Zhang said. "The Asian men's basketball championship is coming soon and China can only claim a berth at the 2012 London Olympic Games by winning the title. I believe that the 'Chinese-Australian Basketball Friendly Match' will be good for the China men's basketball team in its preparations for the event."

The Chinese team will train in Perth for about a week and then play Australia in Perth and then Singapore. Zhang has attached great importance to this venture, claiming, "it will be very helpful to practice and harmonize the team by warming up and communicating with such a strong team like Australia".

Western Australia is endeavoring to guarantee a competitive event. The teams have met several times over the past few years, but the games have not always lived up to the hype. However, with governmental support, Zhang believes the coming match will be a vast improvement on previous encounters and set a benchmark for future clashes.

The ultimate plan is for the event to be held annually for the next five years. If the "Chinese-Australian Basketball Friendly Match" model operates effectively, Hames looked forward to it opening the way for other sports teams from China to train, compete and communicate with organizations in Western Australia.

China Daily

Beautiful beaches are everywhere in Western Australia.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: China Daily

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