By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Basketball is back in Seattle as the U.S. Women’s National Basketball team will play a special exhibition game on Friday, May 11, at KeyArena against the Chinese Women’s National basketball team. Current Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird and former Storm player Swin Cash will play for the U.S. team in the exhibition game against China. The women from China are the champions of Asia, and the team is using its visit to Seattle as a tune-up for the London Summer Olympics. This visit will be a rare opportunity for basketball fans to see the team from China.
They won the 2011 FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Asia championship gold medal.
“The opportunity to bring this international exhibition game to Seattle is in large part because of our fan support here.
The game will also illustrate how much the game of women’s basketball and the players have continued to elevate the quality of play both domestically and internationally,” Storm President and CEO Karen Bryant said.
“This is a unique opportunity to see a collection of world-class athletes together on one court, right here in Seattle.
The Storm is honored to be involved and we look forward to hosting a first-class event from start to finish.”
In addition to the Chinese team playing on May 12, the U.S. team will hold a training camp that weekend in Seattle.
“I’m looking forward to it because it’ll be the first time that the entire (U.S.) team will be together,” said Geno Auriemma, 2009-2012 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach.
Former Seattle Storm player Swin Cash played against the China team in the 2004 Olympic Games and also played with the team in China for 3 years.
“The team is in great condition as a whole and very well rounded. I remember them being a strong team, too,” said Cash.
“The entire country of China has some very impressive players who will definitely be difficult to compete against. The hardest [part] for me though will be facing my DongGuan teammates because they are like my family. But I know they will play a great game and I look forward to the challenge!”
The Chinese National Team will also play an exhibition game later this month against the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA in Pasadena, Calif.
“It is a valuable opportunity for us to play with the WNBA and USAB (USA Basketball) teams. We hope that we could learn more lessons and [improve] from these games, know [more] about U.S. basketball, and meanwhile, make faster improvement in individual skills and team plays,” said a member of the Chinese National Team.
The team’s coach, Sun Fengwu, added, “This year is an Olympic year. Our team is working very hard for the preparation of [the] London Olympics, it is a great training opportunity for us to play with WNBA and USAB teams here. USAB represents the highest level of women’s basketball in the world, we hope that from these games, we could do a better job in identifying our own weaknesses, build up our confidence, and to be better prepared for the Olympics.”
Prior to the basketball game Friday night, the Chinese team will be hosted by the Northwest Asian Weekly on Monday, May 7, at the Ocean City Restaurant in Chinatown. “The Seattle Storm asked me to do a welcome dinner and I agreed to it because it’s so exciting to have them playing in Seattle before they play each other in London this summer,” said Seattle Chinese Post and Northwest Asian Weekly founder Assunta Ng. “When you watch them live on TV this summer, you will treasure the fact that you have met them in Seattle. This is also an excellent chance to show them Washington state’s hospitality.”
“If you are curious whether Chinese female basketball players are as tall as Yao Ming or as good as the men’s basketball team, this is your opportunity to meet them at the dinner.” Ng added. “Take photos with them and ask them the questions you are dying to ask.”
Along with the welcome dinner for the Chinese team, there is an event at Niketown with the USA Women’s National Team on May 12 at 2 p.m.
What should you expect if you go to the game? Are there any differences between the U.S. game and the game in China?
“[I]t’s really a very difficult thing to compare the style played in the United States to every style of basketball from around the world,” said USA assistant basketball coach Carol Callan.
“[T]hey are extremely disciplined in the way they play the game. Other areas of the world, you might see a flexibility in positions as post players move to the perimeter and guards try to post up, but China will play a more traditional style with effective perimeter shooting, penetration when possible, and strong post play.”
Basketball is such a global game now that training methods in China are similar to the ones here.
“The NBA is very popular in China and China teams have traveled to the U.S. to train with WNBA and college teams. Consequently, they have used the best ideas from home and abroad,” explained Callan.
Callan also gave a brief scouting report on their opponents next Friday.
“The China National Team is typically very well-disciplined. They have a lot of very good shooters and the team moves the ball very well.”
On May 12, Cash will represent the U.S. team and face off against the players she bonded with while playing China.
“[B]asketball is a universal language,” said Cash, “and once I’m out there on the court, it’s game time no matter where in the world I might be.” (end)
For more information on the welcome dinner on Monday, May 7, please contact the Seattle Chinese Post at (206) 623-0623. A ticket to the game will be included with admission to the dinner.
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.