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HomeLatestInterview: China ladies's basketball coach goals excessive at Paris 2024 Olympics

Interview: China ladies's basketball coach goals excessive at Paris 2024 Olympics

by sportswriters Cao Yibo, Su Bin and Wang Qinou

BEIJING, March 9 (Xinhua) — Making the transfer from participant to go coach in ladies’s basketball is not any simple feat, to say nothing of creating it to the ultimate of a World Cup as each a participant and a head coach.

So Zheng Wei has many causes to be happy with herself.

The present head coach of China’s ladies’s basketball group steered her squad to second place on the FIBA Women’s World Cup final 12 months, tying the nation’s finest file within the match. She was additionally a part of the China group which reached the ultimate of the World Championships in 1994.

In an unique interview with Xinhua, Zheng informed her story of getting over regrets throughout a profession spanning 28 years.

UNFORGETTABLE FIBA 2022 WORLD CUP

During the final Olympic cycle, China had been extensively thought of severe medal contenders at main world competitions, however didn’t show their prowess on the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

“In Tokyo, we were rallied past and eliminated by Serbia,” Zheng recalled.

What made the 12 months 2021 much more poignant for Zheng’s group was that they had been defeated by Japan within the Asian Cup last.

“Because of these setbacks my players really wanted to move a step forward and reach a new level,” mentioned Zheng.

For Zheng, the underperformance was in some way harking back to the 1994 World Championships, the place China missed out on the title after dropping to Brazil within the last.

“It was the closest China’s women’s basketball team had ever come to winning the world title. We defeated Australia to set up a final showdown with Brazil,” mentioned Zheng.

“We had never lost to Brazil in previous games, so we felt like we were already the world champions.

“But as a result of we had been mentally unprepared and too keen for fulfillment, we did not play our greatest in that sport and left with regrets,” she added.

28 years later, Zheng made up for her regrets, even though the young China side she coached also finished runners-up at the World Cup after losing to the United States in the final.

Speaking of last year’s World Cup journey, Zheng mentioned the quarterfinal against France and the semifinal against Australia as the two most unforgettable games, as the former represented a breakthrough for the team, while the latter showcased her players’ tenacity and resilience.

“It was the very best sport that France performed all through the World Cup. Their capturing share was very excessive, and it was powerful,” said Zheng.

“But our gamers had ready for that second for years. Everyone held their breath and did not wish to depart with regrets.

“After breaking through this barrier, the players became more confident,” she added.

In the match towards hosts Australia, China withstood strain regardless that they had been taking part in with out prime scorer Li Meng.

“When the opportunity came, everyone’s determination to move forward did not change. Although Li Meng did not play, everyone else stepped up and took responsibility,” Zheng famous.

“I think it was willpower that helped us. Australia were a more experienced team, but by the fourth quarter, they couldn’t keep up with us.”

From the group stage to the ultimate, Zheng’s gamers stored shocking her with implausible performances. “Maybe after breaking through that window, they couldn’t be stopped. They did their best to present both technique and spirit on the court. I think there was no regret this time,” mentioned Zheng.

CHINA MOVING TO THE TOP

Basking in World Cup glory, Zheng urged her gamers to remain calm and work tougher.

“We only made it to the final in this tournament. It might come just by chance,” mentioned Zheng.

“But if we are a genuinely top team like the USA, Australia, France and Spain, we need to prove ourselves in every competition.”

A scarcity of expertise is China’s greatest weak spot, which regularly led to inconsistent play within the knockout levels, mentioned Zheng.

To change the state of affairs, she careworn the significance of increase a extra aggressive skilled league in China and scheduling extra high-quality worldwide friendlies for the nationwide group.

Zheng summarized the pattern of girls’s basketball as “a more physical game with more vaguely defined positions, fiercer defense, more intensive body contact and better individual techniques.”

“I believe we are approaching our goals on the right track through training,” she mentioned.

TEAMWORK IS CHINA’S TRADITION

Having served as an assistant coach of China’s nationwide group for 12 years earlier than taking cost as the pinnacle coach, Zheng is deeply impressed by the group’s custom of teamwork.

“Unity, cooperation, selfless dedication, and never giving up are the glorious traditions of China’s women’s basketball team,” Zheng mentioned.

“Shao Ting and Sun Mengran have passed them on to Yang Liwei and Li Meng, and the latter are passing onto the next generation.”

Zheng mentioned that she additionally had good cooperation together with her predecessors and discovered so much from them.

“I had been analyzing opponents’ strategies for the team before, so I am very familiar with both our players and our main opponents. What I can do is bring out the players’ strength and make them more confident,” she mentioned.

BALANCING PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND NATIONAL TEAM

The 2022-2023 WCBA league season is ready to conclude in mid-March. Zheng confirmed that the nationwide group will assemble on the finish of March to start preparations for this 12 months’s two essential occasions – the Asian Cup and the Asian Games.

“We will play the Asian Cup in June, but some of the players who were in last year’s World Cup may not join the team because they have contracts with WNBA teams, so the mission will be tough for us,” Zheng mentioned.

According to Zheng, 4 or 5 gamers, together with middle Han Xu and veteran Yang Liwei, have contacts with the WNBA. Zheng mentioned she hopes that they’ll refine themselves in a extra aggressive league and return to carry out higher for the nationwide group.

Zheng revealed that the Asian Cup and the Asian Games are China’s short-term aim, whereas their long-term aim is the Paris Olympics in 2024.

“We need to combine our preparations with the two goals,” she mentioned.

“We may recruit more young players who can compete in international events. They are eager to play for the national team. We want to observe them and help them grow.

“We hope so as to add one backup to each place. The nationwide group’s roster will embrace 16 to 18 gamers this time.”

Asked about their prospects at Paris 2024, Zheng said: “We intention to match our World Cup efficiency in each main competitors sooner or later. Hopefully we will obtain it.”

(Gao Meng additionally contributed to this story.)

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