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Ambitious China not imtimidated by tough grouping at Olympics
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World elite teams will worry about an aggressive Chinese team to create surprises on their homeland at the men's basketball competitions of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Li Yuanwei, deputy director of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), said China is not intimidated by world champion Spain or "Dream Team" the United States, and will come all out though there is slim chance to advance from the preliminary round.

China is bracketed with Spain, Greece, the United States, 1-2-3 finishing of the 2006 World Championship, along with Germany and Angola in Group B.

Top four teams advance into the quarterfinals, which means two victories in the group is the minimum request for a berth in the top eight.

"People say China should play wisely. We should save our efforts on matches against Germany and Angola because we cannot beat world top three teams.

"We won't do that. We'll come all out for every match. There is no important or less important matches to us. Every match is a do-or-die match," Li said on Saturday after the Chinese men's team completed the morning training.

China announced its squad on Friday with two big guys, Ding Jinhui and Zhang Kai, left out and guard Zhang Qingpeng and wingman Wang Lei remaining in the squad.

Houston Rockets' star center Yao Ming and New Jersey Nets forward Yi Jianlian heralded the team, which finished eighth four years gao in Athens.

The eighth placing is the best result for China at the Olympics and World Championships. China hopes to make a better result this time at home.

"We talked about how China makes better results than eigth at the Beijing Olympics. It is not our real goal. To challenge the world best teams, to show the determination of the team and to stage the best-ever Olympic matches to the local fans -- those are our main target at the Beijing Games," Li vowed.

China will kick off the competition with debut against the United States on August 10.

China has never beaten the U.S. national team at any world tournaments. It lost to the U.S. 121-90 at the 2006 World Championship.

But the tickets of the Sino-U.S. are the most wanted on the Internet. Prices of the tickets of this matchup vault more than ten times than its face value.

Spain beat China twice at the 2004 Athens Games, 83-58 in the preliminary round and 92-76 in the 7th-8th placing final. The two team will meet again on August 12.

Greece, which defeated China 95-64 at the 2006 World Championships, is the last opponent in the group on August 18.

China lost twice to Germany at warm-ups last August, and lost 72-71 to Angola at the Stankovic Cup a week ago.

"It's coward to say you should lose the game you cannot win. All the Chinese basketball fans will witness the confidence of victory and fighting spirit of the national team. We do want a better result, and good things happen when you give the best.

"All the five matches (in the group) are important. To win these matches, we have to be ourselves, to play our games and to go one by one. Now we don't think of the second phase, but one win after another," Li said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2008)

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