NANJING (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers) - Chinese icons Yao Ming and Li Nan are confident that Nanjing is ready to host and the national team are ready to compete at the Asian Qualifiers.
"I hope that Nanjing can make a good start for the Qualifiers looking ahead to the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup," Yao said. "I have full confidence in Nanjing for its experience and expertise in organizing mega events."
National team head coach Li Nan, meanwhile, is hoping that the first Asian Qualifiers window will give his wards the exposure and experience they need to mature as basketball players.
"As the World Cup host team, we decided to take part in the Qualifiers mainly aiming to create more international match opportunities for the young team," he said. "In the long run, we will select more young players for the World Cup games that will be held in 2019."
Coach Li's preference for youth is apparent in the national selection that will see action in Group A, and many Asian basketball fans were actually a little surprised that marquee names like Guo Ailun, Yi Jianlian and Zhou Peng were not called up.
This is due to the CBA's new framework of having two different national teams alternating their participation in FIBA Asia competitions, and, according to coach Li, the current pool is also a fruit of evaluating how the players performed over the summer and in previous tournaments.
"We assess our players mainly based on their performance during the summer," he explained. "Their performance in the national games is also taken as a reference."
Bannering China for the first window of the Asian Qualifiers are rising stars Zhai Xiaochuan, Zhao Jiwei, Mugedaer Xirelijiang, Wang Zhelin and CBA Most Valuable Player Ding Yanyuhang. Their oldest players are Fang Shuo and Meng Duo, who are both 27 years old.
China are set to take on Hong Kong in Nanjing on 23 November and then face age old rivals Korea on 26 November at the Goyang Gymnasium.
Coach Li foresees that he may have to make some changes to their roster in the gap between the two matches.
"We will adjust the rosters when preparing for different opponents," he said.
Aside from Hong Kong and Korea, also joining China in Group A are New Zealand.