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People's Daily Online>>Sports

China and the US court friendship

By Tym Glaser (China Daily)

10:55, December 07, 2011

BEIJING - Sixteen young Chinese high school students and that same number of foreigners will battle it out this weekend in the first 16x16 Basketball Tournament at the Western Academy of Beijing.

The event is the brainchild of United States charity organization Americans for Promotion of Study Abroad (APSA) and falls under the umbrella of President Barack Obama's 100,000 Strong Initiative, which aims to get more than 100,000 of his countrymen involved with China before the end of his first term in office in November of next year.

The central theme of the event is "friendship through basketball", and the 32 players will be divided into eight teams of four, which will each feature two Chinese and two foreign players.

APSA spokesman Kevin Meenan expects former NBA all-star Jamal Mashburn and iconic Chinese actor Jackie Chan to be in attendance at the two-day event, which tips off at 8:30 am on Saturday. However, Meenan said the primary focus will be on the youngsters on the court.

"We have invited eight players from Boston-area high schools to the event and they will be joined by eight others, most likely Beijing-based international students.

"The Chinese 16 will come from high schools in Beijing," he said. "The idea is to have them playing with each other rather than against one another."

The "international" hoops event comes at a convenient time, following a nasty brawl between China CBA team Bayi Rockets and US college side Georgetown in a not-so-friendly game in August.

"We don't want to focus on that incident. The 32 young people involved will be preparing for a future when global issues will require virtues like teamwork and quick communication, which is also necessary for success on the court," Meenan said.

The basketball event will tipoff a week-long festival celebrating US-China collaboration, culminating in a concert on Dec 17 featuring members of the Black Eyed Peas, John Legend and other famous Chinese and American artists.

Meanwhile, Meenan said APSA is looking to make the 16x16 tournament an annual one.

"This year we have invited students from Boston, but they could come from other states in the future ... and the venue could also change," he said.

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