Aoshen reign victorious in Taiwan
Basketball club Beijing Olympian (Aoshen) is enjoying a victorious exchange tour to the island of Taiwan - winning all seven matches against the island's Super Basketball League (SBL) clubs.
Averaging 2.05m in height, the young Beijing players have won praise for their impressive performance, spirit and discipline from the thousands of fans waiting in long queues outside stadiums, chasing autographs and taking photographs.
"It felt fantastic when watching them play. The club showed their advantage in height, speed and accurate shooting. I was just carried away," said a veteran basketball fan from the island.
According to statistics from TVBS, an average 1 million people watched each match, an unprecedented figure in Taiwan's basketball broadcasting. The island's media also paid tribute, saying it is a win-win move for both sides and more tours should be organized.
Aoshen is the second team to visit the island since 1997, following a side from a Shanghai side. Formerly a first-division club, Aoshen was relegated last season but players from SBL clubs believed they could improve by playing the capital's side.
"It is tough to play with them. In SBL, I am taller than players at the same position but not at Aoshen. Here, I can benefit a lot through the competition," said Tian Lei, the most popular basketball player in Taiwan.
Tian's sentiments were echoed by Jian Mingfu.
"It is fresh to play with a strong team. After competing with Aoshen, I think it would be easier to play at SBL clubs."
Aoshen was barred by the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) from competing in the Chinese first-division basketball league for the 2004-05 season after the club refused to release its players for the Chinese Under-20 training squad.
The CBA explained that every club is obliged to release its players for the national team.
However, the watchdog added players are allowed to have short-period exchanges of matches during the season in order to sharpen their competitive abilities.