Interview: China ready to challenge at FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup-Xinhua

Interview: China ready to challenge at FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-09-15 09:28:45

BEIJING, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- China are seeking to keep their feet on the ground despite high expectations ahead of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup.

After finishing fifth at the Tokyo Olympic Games last year, China continued their favorable shape going into 2022 as they advanced to the World Cup with a perfect record in February's qualifying tournament.

This could partly explain why they sat in second position, behind after the United States, when the FIBA released its third volume of the tournament in August.

"We are happy to earn these recognitions. At the same time, we are quite cool-minded," Zheng Wei, head coach of China's women's basketball team, told reporters on Wednesday.

China placed sixth at the FIBA Women's World Cup four years ago.

"After all, we haven't advanced to the final four at any major international tournament in recent years. We need to position ourselves in the right manner," said Zheng.

Zheng revealed that it took her team around one month to recover physically and drill effectively on skills after they assembled on May 20, and they have played eight warmup matches since they headed to Europe for World Cup preparation.

"Every game is a test for us, and we are improving," said Zheng.

With veterans Shao Ting and Sun Mengran leaving after the Tokyo Olympics, some new blood has been injected into the team.

"We are now fixing some problems that we met at the Tokyo Olympics, like turnovers and a lack of physical contact. We are becoming better and better," commented Zheng, who rated her team's maturity at six out of ten.

"Hopefully we can reach eight [in this regard] when we are competing at the World Cup. We have found our players' progress from every game, such as dealing with key possessions or an inferior situation."

Centers Han Xu and Li Yueru, who played in the WNBA this season, reunited with the national team at the end of August.

"We need to build better chemistry as they have only played two matches with us," Zheng explained. "But they have shown good shape mentally. Despite some difficulties in our training, building team chemistry and injuries, we are gradually getting back to normal and ready for a final sprint."

Han averaged 8.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in her sophomore WNBA season, having made huge progress from three years ago.

"After finishing my second season in the WNBA, I need to shoulder more responsibilities and help our team both on and off the court," said Han.

Playing as a rookie in the WNBA, Li didn't earn as much playing time as Han, but nevertheless felt herself improve over the past months.

"The biggest improvement is self-confidence," Li said.

China have been drawn in Group A with Belgium, Bosnia, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United States at the World Cup, which will be held in Sydney, Australia from September 22 to October 1.

"We are ready for it," assured China guard Yang Liwei.

For Zheng, every team will cherish the opportunity of playing at the quadrennial tournament.

"We have to be fully prepared for the difficulties ahead, not only doing ourselves well but also puzzling over the opponents to unleash our advantages and do our best," she noted.

"We are in a position to challenge others," Zheng concluded.