Pac-12 China Game to tip off Saturday
US college basketball heavyweights to open new season in Shanghai
Published: Nov 08, 2017 10:43 PM

Cheerleaders of UCLA and Georgia Tech basketball teams pose for photographs during a press conference on Wednesday in Shanghai. Photo: Xu Liuliu/GT

American college basketball teams from UCLA and Georgia Tech will play in Shanghai on Saturday for the third ­annual Pac-12 China Game, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said at a press ­conference in Shanghai on Wednesday.

The game will be the third year that the conference, composed of 12 ­Division A US universities, opens its men's ­basketball season in China. Washington defeated Texas in 2015 and Stanford beat Harvard last year.

The Pac-12 is the first US sports league, collegiate or professional, to host a regular-season game in China.

"We're proud to continue to demonstrate the unifying and educational ­power of sports with the third Pac-12 China Game," Scott said. "We are thrilled to again partner with Alisports and the Federation of University of Sports of China [FUSC] to showcase the best of American college basketball to the Chinese audience, to bring an incredible cultural experience to our student-athletes."

Georgia Tech is more familiar to Chinese fans because former NBA star Stephon Marbury played for the school's team in his college days. Marbury is one of China's favorite basketball stars, who now plays for the Beijing Fly Dragons in the Chinese Basketball Association after six years with the Beijing Ducks.

Scott said both teams are heavyweights in US college basketball. Both teams are coming off postseason appearances, with UCLA advancing to the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and Georgia Tech reaching the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament. 

Wednesday also marked the first day of US President Donald Trump's three-day China visit. 

Scott said sports is always a good way to help the two peoples know each other and communicate. He also mentioned the historic "ping-pong diplomacy," which started a new page in Sino-US relations, to prove that for many years, sports has always played an important role in cultural exchanges. 

Scott also told the Global Times that after running the China Games for ­several years, the Pac-12 has steadily increased public awareness and become more popular in China. In the future, he said, they will continue to work with their Chinese partners for more projects.

Zhang Dazhong, CEO of Alisports, said in a press release that the Alibaba Group and the Pac-12 Conference have expanded their partnership and "look to continue to encourage more Chinese youth to improve physically and culturally through sports. We look forward to making a greater positive contribution to the Pac-12 and collegiate athletics."

FUSC Vice President Xue Yanqing said that under the China-US High-level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism, the last five years have seen many joint projects between Pac-12 and FUSC, not only the China Games, but also a series of training programs in other sports.

Both coaches said they're "honored" to play a game in China and will perform well for Shanghai audiences.

The game will also be streamed live through Chinese streaming site Youku to Chinese viewers, and will be aired in the US by ESPN.