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Team CHN

Cong ready to take on the challenge for China

BEIJING (FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup) – China head coach Xuedi Cong has been weighing up her country’s prospects at the FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup as they look to end their medal drought.

Five editions of the event have now passed since the Asian powerhouse took to the podium steps and you have to go way back to Tunis in 2005 for when that happened, as they harvested a bronze on African soil.

While China are dominant in their own region as perfectly illustrated by their magnificent record at the 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Women’s’ Championship when they went unbeaten and crushed arch rivals Japan in the Final, some believe it is time they now punched their weight at the global level.

Yet doing so is going to take a big effort from former national team player Cong and her squad - the core of which will be derived from the side that was so rampant in Thailand last year.

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She said: "We hope try our best to achieve a [medal] breakthrough, but there are so many elements to consider.

"We are in a tough group, since USA, Mali and China are all continental champions, while Italy are the hosts.

"The group provides opponents who are all strong teams and we will face a lot of difficulties," added Cong.

"Generally speaking, the team will be composed from most of the players from the U18 team, but we will probably also have some new players, rather than only using those from last year."

Li Yueru and Han Xu could form twin towers in the paint for China and Wang Jiaqi has turned heads already on the global stage, having impressed at last year’s FIBA U17 Women’s World Championship – along with Xu who made the Tournament All-Star Five.