Thursday, September 21, 2006

Assorted News from China

1. During my daily scour of Youtube, I came across two new videos of Chen Jianghua. One is a compilation video of Chen in the recent Asian U-18 Championships. The second is another highlight video, this time of a single game, against South Korea in the finals. I would recommend the second over the first, as it's much clearer and has better quality.

However, I'm not really a fan of highlights videos (or mixtapes, or remixes, or whatever you call them), since they really do no more than inflate the value of the players, showing only their offensive strengths (mixtapes are never made about defensive plays. Can you imagine a blazing hip-hop jam accompanying a highlight video of Bruce Bowen and his defense? I can't). One thing you can see from the video is that Chen didn't really set the team up and play point guard. No 8 on their team, Han Shou, was actually the primary point guard for them. He's a big guard, at about 6'5, and he might go on to great things.

2. Before the World Championships, listed Zhang Songtao as one of the Chinese "prospects to watch", along with Chen, Yi Jianlian, and Sun Yue. I haven't mentioned him before, and I think I should now. The WC were his debut with the senior national team, and he didn't get a lot of playing time behind Yao, Yi, and Wang ZhiZhi (three games, 8 minutes total). However, I think this is a guy to watch. For one thing, he's a "normal" basketball player. If I may say so, Yao, Yi, and Chen are all "abnormal in one way or another. Chen has amazing quickness, Yi is very athletic, and Yao, of course, is very tall. Zhang, on the other hand, is merely a normal 6-11, 250 center/power forward. He plays in the ABA (along with Sun), which is obviously not a top-level league, but it's certainly better than the CBA, and it's exposing him to the "American-style" of play, and the more physical play he's exposed to, the better.

3. Finally, an article posted more than a week ago by Marty Burns of addresses the issue of Chinese basketball. I didn't reference it, because it didn't really say anything new. However, on the second page, there is one interesting quote from Del Harris (who, if you've forgotten, coached China in the 2004 Olympics).

Harris argues that the '08 Games are important enough to China that it
would be for the benefit of all if the pro owners would allow [Chinese players to go to Europe].

"It is too bad that there is not enough national team spirit among the
owners and not enough knowledge within the political ranks to make this happen." Harris says. "China has players who could play at a nice level in Europe: Zhu (Fangyu), Yi, Du (Feng), both Wangs (Zhizhi and Shipeng), Liu (Wei), Li (Xiaoxu) and Sun (Yue). That is eight players plus Yao who are very good and would vastly improve by playing the best competition for 60-80 games in the season leading up to the '08 Olympics. It is that kind of competition that has closed the gap between the NBA players and the rest of the

First, I find it kind of interesting that he mentions a player like Liu Xiaoxu, who has yet to make the national team, but not mention Chen (one more reason to go on proclaiming Chen's brilliance to the world right here).

Also, he says that "it would be for the benefit of all if pro owners" allowed top players to go to Europe. I agree with him there, but then, I still see the other side, and, realistically, the right side isn't going to win out. Take the Guangdong Southern Tigers. They're aiming for their fourth straight championship this year, but if Yi, Wang Shipeng, and Zhu Fangyu all left, their team would be gutted, and the would almost certainly not be champs once again.

However, according to Sinobball of, there will be one Chinese player in Europe next year. Mengke Bateer has attracted interest from a few European teams, so good luck to him. This is a great first step, and if he is successful in Europe, then maybe it will encourage those in China to send others over there as well. However, it is only a first step. Bateer isn't even on the national team, and even if he gets better (he's already over 30, so it's doubtful), it won't mean much to China. Sending young players over is crucial. And as good as this piece of news is, it doesn't accomplish that goal.

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