Chinese Basketball One Step Towards Triumph

The Chinese basketball is one step towards triumph as its men's and women's teams had to settle down with silvers from the Universiade.

The men's team excited the local fans with a breezing run, in which it defeated the overall favorites the United States 83-82 in the semi-finals, but embarrassed itself by losing to Yugoslavia by 40 points, 101-61 in the championship game.

While the women's counterpart had to confess no match-up to the American team, who beat them twice in the games and once a week before the Universiade, after it swallowed the third-successive loss in the finals, 87-69.

But in spite of the hiccups, the Chinese basketball did a great job to surprise the world.

It was the first time for an Asian team beating the American team in any world multi-sports games when the Chinese team upset the American team, led by top college players like Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter.

Chinese "Walking Great Wall", Yao Ming, Menk Batere and Wang Zhizhi, is in the level of its own as the center trio proved their world-class performances with undoubted command in the game.

"Chinese team is a talented team with many good big guys. They didn't play to their best tonight," said Yugoslavia's head coach Baletic Miodrag after winning the gold medal Friday evening.

Miodrag's comment was echoed by his American headcoach Jerry Dunn. "China has some extremely big guys and they did a good job to execute their inside game," said Dunn.

Wang became the first Asian player in America's National Basketball Association (NBA) this spring and will go back to the Dallas Mavericks next season, while sensation Yao is on his way to join NBA next year.

With the men's team already putting names on the book, the women's squad is raising eyebrows as one of the most promising squad in the competition.

A package of youths, talented players, like Chen Nan, Hu Xiaotao and Chen Luyun, are on the way to becoming world class super stars, and are catching up with the level of Zheng Haixia, the best women's basketball player in Chinese history who had played the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) after her triumph in the national team.

"We had a great deal of respect to the Chinese team, and we played the game as if we are playing in the NCAA championship game, " said American head coach Debbie Ryan on Friday.

"China is one of the most all-around teams I've seen for many years, even in America," she added.

The women's basketball slumped down in 1998 and in 1999 when it lost to South Korea and Japan in the Asian championship and is excluded from the World championship.

But top official of the sports in China predicted a bright future after the runners-up finish in the Universiade.

Hu Jiashi, assistant director of China's Basketball Managing Center, said, "the women's team may break the iceberg first in next year's World Championship, where I think it could finish as high as in the top six."

People's Daily Online ---