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China Prepares Asian Games in NBA
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China's basketball team, preparing for the Asian Games that open in Qatar in less than a month, will play two tune-up games against a team from the National Basketball Association's development league.

The Albuquerque Thunderbirds, defending champions of the NBA development circuit, will play Team China on November 16 in Ningbo City and November 18 at Macau as part of their training for the Asiad showdown at Qatar.

In 2002, Asian Games host South Korea upset China in over-time in the championship match in Yao Ming's last game before joining the National Basketball Association's Houston Rockets.

"Playing the defending champions of the D-League provides our national team with a unique opportunity to improve its overall level of competition and gives the players the chance to develop their individual technical skills and talent," said Li Yuanwei, China Basketball Association vice president.

The move is part of a push to help China's basketball team improve before the 2008 Beijing Olympics by providing greater exposure to top-level competition from outside China.

"This is especially important for the younger Chinese players who will play a significant role for the future of Chinese Basketball," Li said.

The Thunderbirds are coached by Michael Cooper, who guided the Women's NBA Los Angeles Sparks to 2001 and 2002 titles and won five NBA titles as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

(AFP November 3, 2006)

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