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NBA brings second set of preseason games to China
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While many prepare to enjoy a relaxed and entertaining atmosphere at the NBA China Games in Shanghai, Dwight Howard is staying as serious as anybody.

The Orlando Magic center has one task in mind - to dunk over LeBron James in front of Chinese fans.

Journalists head out to interview Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard on Sunday, October 14, 2007. [Photo: cn.yahoo]

"If he's around the rim, I'm pretty sure I'm going to dunk the ball on whoever is around," said the 22-year-old All-Star forward. "I'm going to try to break the rim here in China."

The Magic is set to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena Center tomorrow before they travel to Macao for a game against the China All Star Team and another showdown with "King" James's Cavs on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

Howard, the first overall selection in the 2004 NBA draft, believes the China games will be crucial to his side's preparation for the upcoming season.

"We take it seriously," he said. "Our team is really trying to focus on working on our defense, and the China Games are a pretty good chance to see where we are defensively.

"We are ready to deal with the things from last year that stopped us from making it to the level that we wanted to make it to," Howard went on. "We are going to try to do those things the right way and not give the Cavs easy shots and easy chances.

"In China we are going to be working on our defensive schemes and right now we have a new offense."

LeBron James attends his first training session in Shanghai, October 15, 2007.

James was not as concerned about the upcoming challenge with Howard. Enjoying the game is his first priority.

"I feel comfortable every time I come to China, so the number one thing for me is to enjoy my game here," he said. "I want my Chinese fans to enjoy the games as well; we will try to show the best of our basketball."

NBA China Games 2007 will be the league's second set of preseason games in China. In 2004, the NBA became the first American professional sports league to stage games in China, with two match-ups between the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings in Shanghai and Beijing. The Magic will become the second NBA team after the Washington Bullets (now the Wizards) to play a game against the Chinese national team in China.

The NBA will also conduct a series of community outreach initiatives alongside the games as part of the NBA Cares program. The teams, along with the China All Star Team, will participate in events and activities in both cities in partnership with Shanghai Sports Administration and Venetian Macao.

The NBA Cares events tip off today with the dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting for the new NBA Cares Learn and Play Center at the Lubinghua School, a school for the children of migrant workers. Players will put the new court to use by hosting a basketball skills clinic for the students at the dedication.

The community outreach will continue with an NBA Cares Day in Macao on Friday with players hosting a Special Olympics Clinic in partnership with the Venetian Macao as well as visiting the children at the Evangelize China Fellowship Macao Children's Home.

(China Daily October 16, 2007)

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