Chinese Basketball Association President Yao Ming has set a new target for the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after China’s “grand slam” performance at the Asian Games.
China won all four basketball gold medals in Jakarta last week — the long-coveted men and women’s titles, as well as tasting success in the men and women’s 3 vs 3. This is not a bad strike-rate the former NBA player who was only named the CBA’s new president last February.
“Our next goal for the men’s team is to become the best Asian team in next year’s World Cup, to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games and win at least one match there,” said Yao.
Both the men and women’s teams waited eight years to pocket an Asian Games gold medal. The men’s team, with an average age of 23, beat Iran 84-72 in the final, to take revenge for defeat to Iran four years earlier, which saw them miss out on a last four place at the Incheon Asian Games.
Under Yao’s direction, the men’s basketball players were divided into two national teams, like an A and B team, led by two separate groups of coaches.
They represent China in international competitions alternatively. So at the recent Asian Games in Jakarta it was the turn of the B team to represent China.
The two teams will be combined into one later this year or next year and take part in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Shanghai and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Yao said the idea behind organizing two national teams is to create a new competitive model, while providing a bigger platform for good players and coaches.
“Being the host country (and automatically getting a World Cup place) canceled my worries and fears when organizing two national teams, though the format had been questioned by some at the beginning stage,” said Yao.
The team that took part in the Asian Games, nicknamed as the Red Team, included core players like Houston Rockets center Zhou Qi and Dallas Mavericks forward Ding Yanyuhang. Abudushalamu Abudurexiti, 22, from Xinjiang also made an impressive contribution, grabbing 20 points in the final match.
The other national team, nicknamed the Blue Team, took part in the Stankovic Cup in Shenzhen last month and finished third, which was won by Croatia.
“I think the two head coaches have already discovered five to six young talents who were not in our sight at first. In the future, the teams will continue to work hard and find a balance between endurance and explosive strength,” added Yao.