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Chinese female basketballers dedicate win over Britain in Olympic qualification to compatriots

(Xinhua)    11:08, February 07, 2020

BELGRADE, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- After beating Britain 86-76 here on Thursday, the Chinese female basketballers dedicated the crucial win in the last phase of the Olympic qualification to their compatriots who are combating the novel coronavirus.

The world basketball governing body FIBA decided in late January to relocate a qualifying tournament venue from China's Foshan (Guangdong province) to Belgrade due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

China are grouped with Spain, Britain and South Korea, and the top three will advance to Tokyo this summer.

The match against Britain at the Aleksandar Nikolic hall in Belgrade witnessed hundreds of Chinese fans as well as China's basketball legend Yao Ming, and the Chinese ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo.

Thanks to the amazing performances of Han Xu, Li Meng and Shao Ting, who scored 16 points each, China shrugged off the initial lead of Britain and went on to clinch a convincing win.

Captain Shao Ting told Xinhua that "everyone was a bit nervous" to test the strength against Britain for the first time, but finally they united together to open the tournament with a victory.

She revealed that apart from being well prepared and motivated, the team wants to inspire the Chinese people who are coping with difficulties.

"We hope that this victory will drive more people, influence more people with the spirit of the women's basketball team," she said.

Center Han Xu confirmed this at the press conference after the game, saying that the potential of the team "expanded" because of this motivation.

Coach Xu Limin commented on how the Chinese team prepared to play these matches at home before FIBA's decision on the relocation.

"All these happened very quickly, and I think that because of this thing (novel coronavirus outbreak), the players were more motivated," he said.

"Everybody knows that there is a novel coronavirus outbreak in China, so this win has a much bigger meaning for our team and our country. It is not like any other matches, because our country supports us and we fight and play for our country," he said.

China will play against Spain on Saturday, and take on South Korea on Sunday.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Bianji)

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