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Warriors and Lakers are ready to rumble in China

Updated: 2013-10-14 06:34
By China Daily ( China Daily)

Hoop fans in China are in for a treat as the NBA Global Games have come to town again.

With the 2013-14 regular season still weeks away, NBA diehards in China will get the chance to devour a luxury appetizer ahead of schedule as two high-profile teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, will square off in two games at the MasterCard Center in Beijing on Tuesday and at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai on Friday.

The games will conclude the NBA's eight-match global preseason series, which began on Oct 5 with Oklahoma City Thunder beating host Fenerbahce Ulker, 95-82, in Istanbul, Turkey.

On the heels of last year's glittering clashes between the Miami Heat and LA Clippers, the Lakers-Warriors showdown will continue bringing the NBA experience to Chinese fans as well as big-name stars, such as two-time Most Valuable Player Steve Nash, four-time All-Star Pau Gasol from the Lakers and the up-and-coming duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson from the Warriors.

The China trip is a first for the Lakers, who have enjoyed a huge fan base in China since the Bryant-O'Neal era, and brings the Warriors to Chinese shores for the second time after the team participated in the 2008 NBA China Games against the Milwaukee Bucks.

However, the tour in the most populous country is not all about enjoying crowd ovations or going sightseeing as both teams are taking the match-ups seriously to settle their rosters and build chemistry for the new season, which tips off on Oct 30.

However, fans will not see Bryant in action as he will sit out the games due to his rehab from an Achilles' tendon injury (against the Warriors on April 12). He told LA media before flying to China that he still needed about "three weeks to get in shape".

Still, the two-time Finals MVP remains upbeat as his recovery has been quicker than expected.

"It's going well, I feel good," he said during the Lakers' preseason win over the Nuggets last Tuesday. "Obviously I feel like I'm ahead of schedule. It's about kind of getting that range of motion where I feel like I can run comfortably. The last stage is really the explosiveness and the muscle endurance and that will come."

Apart from the 35-year-old Bryant, Nash, 39, and Gasol, 33, also battled injuries last season but have come back strong with impressive preseason performances.

For Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, the games in China will provide ideal workouts for new recruits Jordan Farmar, Wesley Johnson, Nick Young and Chris Kaman.

On the Warriors' side, they just need to prove that last season's semi appearance in the Western Conference wasn't a fluke.

An offseason trade for Andre Iguodala, one of the league's best all-around players, has raised expectations in the Bay Area. A nine-year veteran, Iguodala has career averages of 15.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists.

"(Andre's) versatility as a player should help us tremendously on both sides of the court and we feel that his specific, unique skill set blends very well with the players already on our roster," said Bob Myers, the Warriors' general manager.

With additions like Iguodala and veteran center Jermaine O'Neal, the Warriors' young, multi-talented roster, which already includes Curry, Thompson and forward David Lee, will challenge the western powers, starting with the clash against the Lakers in China.

Along with the games, NBA Cares, the league's outreach program, will hold events in Beijing and Shanghai. Both teams will visit the Jingtai School for migrant workers' children in Beijing on Monday to dedicate a new Learn and Play Center before the Lakers host a a Special Olympics hoops clinic in Shanghai on Thursday.

The Fan Appreciation Day, a free, interactive fan event featuring some of the Lakers and Warriors players participating in drills and conducting basketball activities, will hit Shanghai's Oriental Sports Center on Thursday.

Fans can watch the games live on television and websites including CCTV-5, BTV-Sports, Guangdong TV, Sina.com and QQ.com at 7:30 pm each day.

 Warriors and Lakers are ready to rumble in China

Chicago Bulls' Kirk Hinrich (center) dribbles past Washington Wizards' Trevor Ariza (left) and Nene during a NBA Global Games Rio 2013 clash in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. The Bulls won 83-81. Ricardo Moraes / Reuters

(China Daily 10/14/2013 page23)

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