The Chinese national women'sbasketball team touched down in Canada on Sunday for three games,looking to turn around its fortunes after a disappointing start toa North American tour. After a 100-62 loss to the World champion U.S. Olympic team onSaturday in Seattle, following earlier losses to WNBA club teamsLos Angeles and Seattle, Chinese coach Sun Fengwu said the teamwill spend its weeklong stay in the Vancouver area. Having already qualified for this summer's London Olympic Games,7th-ranked China will meet their Canadian counterparts in the firstof three games in three nights starting Wednesday in Langley, aVancouver suburb city. The Canadians, currently ranked 11th in the world, are looking toqualify for their first Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Games andare using the Chinese friendlies as a tune-up. |
Starting June 25 inTurkey, the team will be among 12 nations battling it out in aqualifying tournament for the final five Olympic spots. "For us, I think it (being in Canada) is a good opportunity totrain our team, especially on defence," said Sun at a receptionhosted by the Chinese Consul-General in Vancouver. "We need to see improvements in defence, the physical game andscrambling for the ball. We are at a disadvantage in our bodyweightand height compared to the American and Canadian teams." With Sun sitting the injured Miao Lijie and Chen Nan, two of histop players against the U.S., the young Chinese team struggledagainst the Olympic champions, shooting for just 42 percent andcommitting 22 turnovers.
Veteran forward Ma Zengyu was one of therare bright spots in hitting for 20 points to lead all scorers. Unlike the Americans who fielded a team of professionals with justone college player, the Chinese squad is in transition and at thestage of replacing the old with the young. At Olympics, China is in Group A with the United States who arelooking for their fifth consecutive Olympic gold, Angola and threeother teams to be decided. "We expect the other three teams will be those who won the secondplace, third place and fourth place at the European championship(in Turkey).
Our opponents will be very strong," said Sun. "We are expecting to meet the team that won the second place in theEuropean championship in our first game in the London Olympics. Wewill try our best at every game." Following Canada, the Chinese team returns to the U.S. where theywill play the Connecticut Sun on May 19 and New York Liberty on May27, with scrimmages scheduled against other WNBA teams in between. Sun, himself a three-time Olympian, added that Canada was a goodopportunity for China to pick up its game in preparation for theintense scrutiny it will face as the Games approach.
"As far as pressure is concerned, we face pressure every time incompetitive sports, especially for us as a national team. TheChinese people have very high expectations of us and we have highexpectations for ourselves," he said. "I think there is pressure every second and our pressure is more orless the same as what we faced in 2008 (in Beijing).".
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