Young generation takes Chinese hoops stage 10 years on
Published: Sep 17, 2018 11:08 PM

Chinese guard Wu Qian takes a shot against Jordan during their basketball World Cup qualification match on Monday in Beijing. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Ten years after China's national basketball team finished eighth at the Beijing Olympic Games, the younger generation of players have now emerged on center stage.

Aside from the Red team's success at the Asian Games, the Blue team also has a lot to offer. On Monday, they bounced back to beat Jordan 88-79 under the gaze of the 2008 squad.

Though many believe the policy of separating the national teams into two indicates competition among the two squads, it also provides more opportunities for different players.

Star center Yi Jianlian, who turns 31 next month, remains the only player who experienced the home Olympic Games in 2008, but did not play on ­Monday. However, 21-year-old center Hu Jinqiu of the Zhe­jiang Lions took up the cudgels. The young player scored 14 points while grabbing five rebounds.

Wu Qian of the Zhejiang Gold Bulls also emerged as a solid shooting guard. At 24, he scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Monday's win.

For sure, the young players' inexperience may lead to embarrassing moments, including a 92-88 defeat to Lebanon on Friday, but going through ups and downs is a necessary road for those who want to become a star.

As the hosts of the 2019 World Cup, China have automatically qualified, but playing in the qualifiers seems not fully meaningless - the Chinese players can grow through the pace and pressure of the games.

The two teams are expected to merge later this month, according to former NBA ­star-turned-Chinese Basketball Association President Yao Ming.

The move means some players in the current rosters will be dropped, but an Asian Games champion squad and the promising stars in the Blue team will offer better depth for the home world championship.

A brand-new national team will travel to Shanghai and Foshan, Guangdong Province later this year for the remaining qualifier games.

With the top eight teams automatically qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, the young players need to work harder to earn a 2020 berth.

It is still hard to predict how they would perform at the Tokyo Games, but the players must be hoping to reach the semifinals - the best result reached by China's basketball team -  as Yao said Monday he hopes his successors could exceed his achievements.