|Shao Ting, captain of Team China, poses with Seimone Augustus of Team USA in Seattle on Wednesday. [China Daily]|
The Chinese women's national basketball team began a three-day training camp in Seattle this week ahead of a series of exhibition games, beginning with a clash against Team USA at Key Arena on Thursday.
After struggling in recent years to match former glories, Team China is in the middle of a rebuilding project, with coach Xu Limin hoping his revamped 15-player roster, which includes exciting teenage prospects Han Xu and Li Yuan, will learn a lot during the trip.
"It is such a valuable opportunity to experience in-game situations," said Team China captain Shao Ting.
"We hope to improve our skills through playing with the top teams in the world, especially the physical side of the game."
Shao was happy to see her old WCBA friends at the camp, including Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx. In the 2015-16 WNBA offseason, Fowles played in China, leading the Beijing Great Wall to a championship.
Thursday night's match-up is the first of eight games for China, which will also face the Seattle Storm, the Las Vegas Aces and the Los Angeles Sparks.
It's the second time the two nations have squared off in Seattle following their meeting in May 2012.
"It's great for us to get such a game, especially against an experienced Olympic team like China early on in this process," said Team USA head coach Dawn Staley.
"Competition brings out the best in them, and that's what China will give us in Seattle."
Xu Lagreed, adding: "I think the players will very much appreciate playing the game rather than practicing."
Assistant coach Wei Zheng told China Daily the young squad lacks big-game experience.
"They are excited for this precious opportunity to learn in the United States," Wei said. "Our target is simple - to test the results of our training and improve through playing games with the best teams in the world."
China held closed practice sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday at Seattle Pacific University.
The games are also the final tune-up before the 2018 FIBA World Cup tips off on Sept 22 in Tenerife, Spain.
Currently ranked 10th in the world, China qualified for the World Cup by winning bronze at the 2017 FIBA Asia Championship.
China won bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, silver at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and finished fourth at the 2008 Beijing Games.
(Source: China Daily)