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China's two national team rosters revealed
BEIJING (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019) - China have chosen to go the unorthodox route, producing not one, but two distinct national teams that will compete alternately in the run-up to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019.
As hosts of the World Cup, the Chinese have actually been assured of a slot in the tournament, but Yao Ming, the newly minted Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) President, has spearheaded this unprecedented approach. Dubbed China Red and China Blue, these national teams will compete in 2017 and 2018 respectively before cuts are made and those retained will be merged into one national team in 2019.
Coaching these teams will be former national team stars Li Nan (China Red) and Du Feng (China Blue).
Here are the rosters for each team:
|China Red Roster for 2017|
|Abudushalamu Abudurexiti||Chang Lin||Ding Yanyuhang||Fang Shuo|
|Fu Hao||Lei Meng||Li Jinglong||Liu Zhixuan|
|Meng Duo||Sui Ran||Wang Zhelin||Wang Zhengbo|
|Wang Zirui||Yu Changdong||Yuan Shuai||Zhai Xiaochuan|
|Zhao Jiwei||Zhao Rui||Zhou Qi||Zhu Rongzhen|
|China Blue Roster for 2018|
|Chen Linjian||Cui Jinming||Gao Shang||Gu Quan|
|Guo Ailun||Han Dejun||Hu Jinqiu||Jia Cheng|
|Ju Mingxin||Kelanbaike Makan||Li Gen||Li Jingyu|
|Li Muhao||Liu Xiaoyu||Ren Junfei||Ren Junwei|
|Tao Hanlin||Wang Ruheng||Yi Jianlian||Yu Dehao|
|Zhang Chengyu||Zhao Yanhao||Zhou Peng|
The biggest stars on China Red are CBA 2016-2017 MVP Ding Yanyuhang and rising star Zhou Qi, who may actually be in the NBA by the time the qualifiers begin. On the other side, Asia's top inside operator, Yi Jianlian, and sharp-shooter Li Gen banner the Blue squad. Youth team standouts Hu Jinqiu and Jia Cheng are also on the list.
This is not the first time the CBA is splitting their national pool into two teams, but whereas before their was a clear demarcation on which team was the "A" team and which was the "B" squad, there seems to be no such distinction this time around. Many have been critical of this move, citing how the talent pool has been diluted into these two training teams, but Yao is working under the impression that this set-up allows the CBA to give ample exposure to both China's current stars and their future generation.
Li Nan's China Red starts their sorties as they host Iran on 13 June 2017 in Liaoning Province before playing in the qualifying games on 24 and 27 November.
Du Feng's China Blue will take over representing the country in the next few windows in February, June and November 2018.