WCBA on top of the world

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Yao Ming, chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association, joins other officials in posing with players representing the 18 clubs of the Women's Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA) on Monday in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Team China's gold medal in women's basketball at this summer's Asian Games has opened a window for further enhancement of the sport nationwide.

The Women's Chinese Basketball Association, the pinnacle of the female pro game in Asia since its formation in 2002, is undergoing an upgrade this season to nurture more talent for the national teams ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

At a Monday media conference in Beijing it was announced that the WCBA has expanded from 14 to 18 teams for the season that tips off on Thursday, making it the largest women's basketball league in the world, including the US-based WNBA.

Yao Ming, chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association, said the plan is to make the WCBA "not only the biggest but also the best" women's pro hoops circuit on the planet.

"Girls of China's national team pocketed gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta and finished in sixth place at the World Cup. The credit goes to the growth of the WCBA, which helped to select many outstanding players," said Yao, an eight-time NBA All-Star and honored member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

"The slogan for the upcoming WCBA season is 'Beauty, Health and Home', and we hope that more women start playing basketball or go to enjoy the beauty of WCBA games with their family.

"In the future, we want to set the WCBA as a standard in terms of the quality of the games, services and all other details.

"We want our league to showcase great basketball and a great platform for female athletes to display their confidence and ability."

According to CBA official Duan Lian, players from university or junior teams who have no WCBA experience can be registered for the new season.

"All the clubs and coaches have high expectations for the new season," said Duan. "With more teams and more talented players, we will surely have better quality games. With our partners, we will keep improving."

Expansion is also welcomed by the players.

"We welcome expansion because it gives more opportunities for new talent to compete and gain experience," said WCBA champion Shao Ting of Beijing's Great Wall.

"This will benefit China's women's basketball development. The more players participating, the bigger their influence will be."

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