CBA to push reform, nurture younger players

Updated: 2013-08-23 21:07

By Sun Xiaochen (

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The Chinese Basketball Association said it will push professional reform of the CBA league while strengthening its cultivation of youth players, at a media briefing on Friday after reviewing the national team's humiliating FIBA Asian Championship campaign.

"The team's poor performance deeply hurt the hearts of our fans and the association takes full responsibility for the defeat," CBA chief Xin Lancheng told a packed meeting room at the association headquarters in Beijing.

Team China finished the biennial Asian tournament at fifth in its worst result since 1975, and lost a direct berth at next year's FIBA World Cup (formerly the World Championship) earlier this month.

According to an official statement released after the briefing, CBA attributed the defeat to some profound causes including the game's shrinking talent pool and the CBA league's lack of professional development.

"We should further work on building young talent by offering young players more opportunities on the world stage without caring too much about the results," said the statement. "Meanwhile, technical support and prizes should be given to grassroots coaches for contributions to nursing young players."

However, the reality is far from the promise.

A roster reshuffle of the national team, which was supposed to take place after the last Asian Championship in 2011, has been postponed twice — at the London Olympics and the Manila tournament — due to the governing body favoring veterans.

Promising young guns like center Wang Zhelin and Li Muhao were cut before the London Games and lost the chance to hone their skills on a larger stage.

At league level, clubs tend to use their foreign players more instead of offering local youngsters decent minutes on court, after spending huge amounts to lure the foreign stars.

Pundits urged the association to issue policies on limiting foreigners' playing time but Xin said the current foreign policy, which allows each team to sign two foreigners and an additional Asian player for bottom-five clubs won't be changed.

The statement did say the association would analyze the possibility for a thorough professional reform of the league, which is currently both operated and administrated by the association.

However, whether the league season will be extended or if an owner's board will be established to run the league instead of the association, haven't been discussed, Xin said.

The public feud between CBA vice-president Hu Jiashi and national squad coach Panagiotis Giannakis, who refused to shake hands with Hu before leaving for his native Greek last week, also stirred up controversy while drawing public criticism on the association's bureaucracy.

A China Youth Daily report alleged Hu always interfered with Giannakis' tactics instruction and roster recruitment and the public urged the governing body to fire Hu.

However, Xin said the association didn't consider any personnel changes at management level nor terminating its contract with Giannakis.

"We can't say that the coach has nothing to do with the loss and his communication with the players wasn't as smooth as expected. We will talk with him later before deciding whether to keep him," said Xin.

As a traditional power in Asian basketball, China lost both group encounters against major opponents Korea and Iran before surprisingly losing to Chinese Taipei at the quarterfinals at the Manila tournament.

"We should face the reality that we are no longer the dominating force in Asia," said an official report after the briefing. "We didn't pay enough attention to the overall development of Asian basketball and didn't self-position properly. We should face our shortages directly and try to make necessary improvements."

On the possibility for the association to naturalize foreign-born players to represent China at international events, Xin said it's unrealistic.

"I actually considered it a little," he said. "Given the legal issues and China's complicated regulation on nationality changes, I don't think it's possible."