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'Female Yao Ming' proves her potential
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Wei Wei, dubbed "female Yao Ming", proved a promising player of women's basketball at the 6th Chinese City Games.


Wei's attempt to help Guangzhou top the podium failed when beaten by defending champion Nanjing 80-72 on Sunday.


The 18-year-old Wei is 207cm tall, three centimeters taller than Zheng Haixia, who used to be the No.One center of Chinese women's national basketball team and helped China won the silver medal in 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.


"Other than Wei Wei, we failed to find any other potential players," said Gong Luming, former head coach of Chinese women's national basketball team.


However, Wei's performance was not that outstanding. She never appeared in the starting line-up of Guangzhou, and her performance was up and down.


"Wei should have become a leading player in national team but she is still too weak in strength and not forceful in the paint." Gong said.


Wei first entered the national team in 2005 but failed to make a stand.


Wei was born in Taiyuan, provincial city of Shanxi. Her father was 196cm and used to a center of Police team while her mother, 182cm, was once the leading player of Shanxi team.


Wei is deemed to be associated with basketball and the first gift she got from her parents was just a basketball.


"I love basketball ever since I was a child, and I have a lot of basketballs at home," said Wei.


"Although my parents are basketball players but they didn't teach me to play basketball on purpose. I just played it with my classmates in the primary school. Only until they realized that I had a deep love for the sport did they begin to teach me."


When Wei was a 4th Grade student, she was already 185cm tall. A coach from Guangzhou Weilun Sports school noticed her and brought her to the school to receive systematic training.


In October 2001, Wei became a member of Chinese National Juvenile team. In 2003, she entered the national youth team. In 2005, she was recruited into the national team.


However, Wei is only 90 kilograms in weight and weak in strength. These disadvantages dropped her out of the national team list several times like in 2006 she missed the Doha Asian Games.


But as Guangzhou team coach Zheng Wei said: "She is still young and should not take much strength training as she is still growing. We make special training plans for her."


Zheng limited Wei's appearance time on the court during the City Games.


"I asked her to play a maximum of twenty minutes in order to protect her. But she had an average of ten points and ten rebounds. The performance is good," said Zheng.


Wei started to play the WCBA league in 2004. In the debutant match, Wei played five minutes and 32 seconds, scored two points and dished out one rebound.


While in the league after the Doha Asian Games, she averaged 17 points in 36 minutes in one match.


"I think my speed is OK but my techniques are just so-so. I do well in blocks and defense," Wei said: "What I badly need is to add up my weight. I should be over 100 kg."


When talking about personal goal, Wei said: "I hope to play in the WNBA league."


There are so far only three Chinese players who once played in the WNBA league.


Zheng Haixia played for Los Angeles Sparks in 1997 and 1998 while Sui Feifei and Miao Lijie played for Sacramento Monarchs in 2005.


Talking about Wei's potential, Gong Luming said: "It totally depends on her devotion to the sport, but up to now she has made steady progress."


(Xinhua News Agency October 30, 2007)

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