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Li's defection to Japan rankles the CBA

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

10:37, April 17, 2013

The country has been urged to invest more in women's basketball development after a former youth national representative recently became a citizen of Japan.

Although Chinese athletes representing foreign countries in badminton and table tennis is widely accepted, such a case in basketball has stirred a heated debate.

The Chinese Basketball Association confirmed on Monday that former national youth team center Li Mingyang, who left her Beijing team to seek treatment for an injury in Japan in 2010, was later discovered in the Japanese league playing for Chanson V-Magic, boasting Japanese citizenship and having adopted the name Miyuki Sugiyama, which she acquired last May.

"Li's transfer to Japan without notifying her Chinese club was a violation of the rules and has severely distorted the sports transfer market," Duan Lian, senior executive with the CBA, said on Monday.

Although FIBA, the game's world governing body, issued fines totaling $48,300 on the Japanese Basketball Association and Chanson, Duan said the CBA would continue discussion with the Japanese side to try and reclaim Li.

The news created great controversy on Tuesday with opinions divided.

Current youth national team coach Li Xin said Li's move was unacceptable, tweeting on her micro blog on Tuesday that, "no matter if she has a Chinese or Japanese name, she will be spurned by everybody who loves Chinese basketball for her unpatriotic behavior".

However, some renowned figures, including popular commentator Xu Jicheng, asked fans to stay calm, stressing a lack of attention on the female game had prompted Li's move as well.

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