After beating Jordan 70-69, China now has nearly a year to prepare for the Olympics — a loss against Jordan would have sent them to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament next July to compete for the three remaining spots with 11 other teams including Puerto Rico, Angola and Asian runner-up Jordan.
The team's undefeated performance in Wuhan was in stark contrast to its winless showing in a test event in London this summer. There, China showed it has a lot of work to do to compete with the best in the West, with losses to Australia, Serbia, France, Britain and Croatia.
Yi Jianlian proved once again that, despite a lackluster NBA career so far, he can make a huge impact for China in international play. He was the tournament MVP and notched 25 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks in the final — and he made the crucial free throw that gave China the 70-69 win over Jordan in the gold medal game. No doubt once the NBA is back in business, Yi's FIBA performance will catch the eye of the next poor owner to get excited about the "23"-year-old's "upside."
Asian Championships were the best remaining chance for China to qualify for London, and mainland fans were fully aware. According to FIBA, China's semifinal against Korea beat out the French Open women's final to become the year's most-watched sporting event on CCTV-5, with 81 million people tuning in. The game peaked at 35 million viewers —compare that to a peak of 30.5 million watching NBC's broadcast of the NFL season opener, a rematch between last season's Super Bowl contenders.
For more on the highlights of the tournament, check out this report from Jon Pastuszek at Niubball, written just before the quarterfinals. He's got some Wang Zhizhi highlights, brief analysis of Yao's color commentary, and the goods on some of the tournament's politics, including the Koreans' complaints about practice time and Qatar's "We're-all-fouling-out-so-there" protest of a FIBA ruling.
Image of Chinese men's national basketball team: Sina.comp=2#
Tags: 2012 Olympics, basketball, Wuhan, Yi Jianlian
The words 'tennis powerhouse' are not generally associated with China, but the PRC has made great progress in recent years in terms of establishing itself as a rising star in the tennis world – witness Li Na coming in second at this month's Monterrey Open and Zheng Jie (pictured above) making it to the semifinals at Wimbledon last year.
In an effort to spur greater interest in tennis at the grassroots level, China's sports authorities announced the creation of a new national amateur tennis league – the China Open Rating Tour (CRT) – which will launch next month. As China Daily explains:
The CRT will be divided into three levels of proficiency to sharpen its competitive edge, similar to a boxing competition with different weight classes. It will feature singles, doubles and mixed doubles play. Winners of each competition level will battle for the national trophy during the newly promoted China Open tournament that runs from Oct 1-11.
The tournament will be divided into six regions, with seven cities hosting competition. The regions and cities include: North (Beijing), Northeast (Shenyang), Central (Wuhan), East (Shanghai), South (Guangzhou) and West (Kunming and Chengdu).
Amateurs and retired professionals of any age – or nationality – are invited to apply to compete in the CRT via the league's official website.
Zheng Jie image: ydl169.com
Tags: Beijing, Chengdu, China Open Rating Tour, CRT, Guangzhou, Kunming, Li Na, Shenyang, tennis, Wuhan, Zheng Jie