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Du Feng and Li Nan named coaches of China's national teams
Earlier this month, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) announced that they will take a unique approach in preparing for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Instead of having a single national men's team, which is the international standard, China will develop two independent national teams that will take turns playing in international tournaments during 2017 and 2018. The two teams will have different players, managers and, of course, coaches, which is where Du and Li come in.
All this is the brainchild of Chinese basketball living legend Yao Ming, the recently-elected CBA President.
Du and Li are two of the most successful and decorated players to ever participate in the CBA and don China's national kit.
Li was one of China's fiercest perimeter threats in the late 90s and early 2000s, and he served as an assistant coach to Gong Luming in their gold medal campaign at the FIBA Asia Championship 2015.Du, for his part, was a versatile forward and fixture for the national side for most tournaments between 2001 to 2010. His retirement at just 30 years old was viewed by many as quite premature, but his career has come full circle by being a head coach of the team for which he played. Du served as the head coach for GuangDong this past season, leading the Souther Tigers to the Finals against eventual champions Xinjiang. It is no surprise then that he was named one of China's two national head coaches.
In addition, they played together in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, but, ironically, will be expected to compete with each other for the lone head coaching spot starting in 2019, which is when the two separate national teams will then merge into one team for the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the Olympics in 2020.