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NCAA basketball coming to China next year

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2014-06-23 06:58

US college basketball will dribble and shoot its way into China next year with a regular-season game between the University of Washington of the Pacific-12 conference and the University of Texas of the Big 12.

The goal is brand promotion and cultural exchange as interest in basketball continues to expand in China.

Following the NBA's global games in the country in recent years, a regular-season NCAA game is expected to fuel growing hoop fever and boost Sino-US exchanges in physical education.

The game, scheduled for Nov 14, 2015, will mark the first time that teams from the US - college or professional - have played a regular-season game in China, where basketball enjoys massive popularity thanks to ex-NBA players such as Yao Ming.

Larry Scott, commissioner of the Pacific-12 Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, said the regular-season tour will help expand higher-education exchanges between China and the US.

"Given my experience with tennis and international sports, I realized that there are more athletic opportunities between our universities and those in China that can promote goodwill and collaboration, and help our schools to have a greater presence in China," said Scott, who previously served as chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association.

Launched in 2011, the Pac-12's China Initiative paved the way for schools in the western United States to expand overseas, with special outreach toward East Asia.

The Arizona State University men's basketball team, along with the women's team from the University of California, Berkeley, went on exhibition tours in China last summer, together with an all-star women's volleyball team consisting of players from around the conference.

In August this year, a Pac-12 All-Star men's basketball team will travel to China, visiting at least two cities and playing exhibition games against two Chinese pro teams and one college team.

Scott said the tours will bring more than just games to Chinese students and college officials. There will also be fan events, forums and symposiums on collegiate cooperation between China and the US.

"It's a big next step to show them a real game," Scott said. "Two teams play against each other to their full ability, to showcase the level of competition and expose that to the Chinese public.

"There will also be talk about how similar and how different the US college system is from the Chinese system. We want the games to be bigger than just basketball games. We want to have a social, cultural and academic impact."

For some of China's forward-thinking college students, the amateur games under the NCAA system are more appealing than the professional NBA.

"I am really interested in exploring the NCAA operation and how student athletes can be active on both the academic and athletic sides. Hopefully, we can have more of such exchange programs in the future," said Lu Lin, a student majoring in sports industry at Beijing Sport University.

 NCAA basketball coming to China next year

Wisconsin Badgers forward Sam Dekker (15) and Oregon Ducks forward Ben Carter (32) fight for a rebound in a men's college basketball game during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on March 22. Provided to China Daily


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