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Yao Ming to Take on Ginobili in Beijing

Champions from five continents will come to China to compete for the inaugural International Basketball Federation (FIBA) United Cup scheduled for July 26-31.

FIBA officials said the participants would be: China, the Asian champion; Argentina for South America; Angola for Africa; Australia for Oceania; Lithuania for Europe; and Puerto Rico, who edged the US out in the North and Central American Tournament.

The matches will be based on an elimination round robin to decide rankings, and each team is required to bring its top players.

This means local fans will probably have an eyeful of NBA stars such as Yao Ming, Lithuanian center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Argentinean guard Emanuel Ginobili since the US league will have no games in July.

In the ongoing domestic CBA league, Guangdong will host the opener of their best-of-5 championship series against regular season leaders Jiangsu on April 13.

After the post season ends, national team players will gather in Beijing to prepare for the Asian Championships slated for September in Doha, Qatar.

They will first play the visiting American Star Team in four games from June 21-29, then challenge Lithuania, Brazil and New Zealand at a four-nation invitation tournament in mid-July.

The basketball administration will release the roster for the new national squad in mid-April, and the 51-year-old Lithuanian Jonas Kazlauskas, currently directing a Greek team, will take the helm of the new Chinese lineup next month.

China finished eighth at the Athens Games in 2004.

Latest Ranking Unveiled by FIBA

 1. United States 860.2
 2. Serbia and Montenegro 778
 3. Argentina 682
 4. Italy 463
 5. Spain 450
 6. Lithuania 420
 7. Russia 381
 8. Australia 314
 9. Puerto Rico 298
 10. France 252
 11. Greece 229
 12. China 205
 13. Canada 204.2
 14. Germany 194
 15. Brazil 187
 16. New Zealand 186
 17. Angola 152
 18. Turkey 143
 19. Croatia 121
 20. South Korea 87

(China.org.cn by Li Xiao, April 8, 2005)


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