New academy to ensure Cup legacy in China

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FIBA and Beijing Enterprises Group officials attend a signing ceremony in Beijing on Wednesday to announce plans to build the FIBA-BG Basketball Academy. The first-of-its-kind school is part of the legacy plans for next year's World Cup in China. [Photo/Xinhua]

As China prepares to host the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, the sport's governing body is confident the tournament will leave a lasting legacy here.

Cooperating with its global partner, Beijing Enterprises Group Company Limited (BG), the International Basketball Federation on Wednesday announced plans to establish a FIBA-BG Basketball Academy, which it said will be the first of its kind in the world.

"The Basketball Academy is a perfect element of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019's legacy because it will ensure that education and training in basketball and 3x3 takes place across China," said Patrick Baumann, FIBA's secretary-general and an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, at a signing ceremony in Beijing.

"Putting in place and seeing through legacy plans at our events is something we take great pride in.

"The inaugural Basketball Academy in Beijing will provide optimal training to a new generation of Chinese youth players, coaches and referees, who will become involved in our sport after being inspired by our flagship competition taking their country by storm in 2019.

"The facility will also offer first-class training for off-court roles, such as a manager program for sports marketing and event operation."

BG, a state-owned corporation that owns over 300 businesses and boasts total assets of more than 150 billion yuan ($22 billion), has a strong track record of investing in sports, including soccer, American football and athletics.

The group also owns CBA team Beijing BEGCL Basketball Club, where now-retired superstar Stephon Marbury played last season.

"The establishment of the FIBA-BG Basketball Academy is the embodiment of the further cooperation between Beijing Enterprises Group and FIBA," said Tian Zhenqing, president of BG.

"The two parties will build a world-class professional basketball training institution. It will have a far-reaching impact on the development of the Chinese basketball industry, which further promotes the exchange and cooperation between China and other countries through the sport's culture, and ensures a better future for the Chinese basketball movement."

Meanwhile, preparations for the Aug 31-Sept 15 tournament are continuing.

Chinese Basketball Association president Yao Ming said earlier this month that around 130 associated projects for the tournament were on schedule for completion by the end of the year.

"The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup will be a great chance for China to show the world not only our basketball strength but also the achievements of our sports industry and other social and cultural areas," said Yao.

"To have an excellent World Cup, we still have much work to do. We have to make it as perfect as possible. I'm so glad that lots of people are helping and supporting us. It's a new experience for me to learn from."

Regarding the host's chances next year, the national team would do well to emulate Team China's best-ever run in the tournament - a run to the semifinals of the 1994 World Championship, the previous incarnation of the World Cup.

In a bid to boost competition for places, China's men's squad is currently separated into Team Red and Team Blue, a strategy initiated by Yao, an eight-time NBA All-Star.

The best players from each team will be merged into a single squad by the end of the year.

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