Beijing embarks on new journey in women's basketball

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BEIJING, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Not long after concluding their Women's Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA) campaign, Beijing has its sights on the qualifying tournament for China's 14th National Games later this month.

Despite the departures of national team players Shao Ting and Gao Song, Beijing managed to reach the playoffs and eventually finish the 2020/21 WCBA season seventh of 17 teams, and also witnessed the emergence of young players down the stretch.

"At the start, nobody knew how we would fare this season," admitted Beijing head coach Zhang Yunsong after a training session here on Thursday.

"But everyone did their best and gained confidence through these games. Admittedly, it was a difficult season, but some veterans fulfilled their roles and young players shouldered more responsibilities in facing up to these challenges. Reaching the playoffs is a recognition of our efforts," he continued.

Zhang revealed the team has recruited Pan Zhenqi and Li Yifan ahead of the National Games qualifiers between January 23 and 29.

"We are in a process of adjustment as our players felt physically and mentally tired after the league. We have also got some new blood, which requires adjustment in building our team chemistry," said Zhang.

Shi Xiufeng, 33, said her young teammates showed grit and a good mentality on court, and that a seventh-place finish reflected the team's efforts throughout the season.

"We were fully aware of the huge difficulty going into this season, but could overcome it and march forward step by step. We encountered some trouble, but showed that we are a united group," commented Shi, revealing that next season would be her last as a player.

Beijing captain Qi Site recovered from hitting her head on the floor when fighting for a loose ball in a round-of-12 match last month, and offered some advice for the team's youngsters.

"Through my performance on the court, I want to show them how to work hard and contribute to the team. Hopefully they can grow up as soon as possible, and cherish what they possess at their ages," said Qi.

Noted Zhang, "Everyone did a great job over the past days. However, we expect a tough road ahead, and the next season may be tougher than this one. It requires everyone's improvement so that they can overcome any difficulty with confidence, determination and guts." Enditem

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