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
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)