Chinese national basketball team eyes future with Du Feng-Li Nan combination

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-28 16:30:18|Editor: Tian Shaohui
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BEIJING, April 28 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese national men's basketball team will officially begin their march to the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with an entirely new system: two teams led by a double-coaching system consisting of Du Feng and Li Nan.

Du Feng led Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) side Guangdong into the 2016-2017 CBA finals. As one of the most successful forwards in the history of Chinese basketball, Du Feng helped Guangdong dominate the CBA, bagging eight trophies before his retirement. He played with the national team from 2002 to 2009.

Both Du Feng and Li Nan enjoyed successful careers as two of the best forwards in China; combined, they bagged over 10 championship titles with Guangdong and Bayi in the CBA league. They also led the national team to the top eight at the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games. Nan was the first player in CBA to hit the 1000 three-pointer record. His team, Bayi, was the first dynasty of the league before Du Feng's Guangdong emerged. The 42-year-old Nan also witnessed China's victory in 2015 Asian Championships as an assistant coach.

Both Du and Li embody the principles set by the CBA: patriotic, self-disciplined, professional, abiding by the anti-doping regulations and boasting national team experience. They are also the former teammates of the newly elected president of CBA, Yao Ming.

The new national team plan is one of the major steps of China's basketball reform, enacted after Yao became the first non-governmental person to take the position. Li and Du will each coach an independent team before the two teams merge into one for the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympic Games.

As China is the host of the World Cup, the national team would have no pressure fighting for a berth in the match, allowing the two young coaches have enough time to cultivate their own teams in 2017 and 2018. The performance of the teams will be one of the factors used to decide which coach will lead the team in 2019 and 2020.

Yao Ming once said that coaches are one of the rarest resources in Chinese basketball, adding that to nurture an excellent coach takes a long time. With each coach around 40 years old, Li and Du are both energetic, creative and eager to prove themselves. The dual-team system will offer them a period of probation, and allow China's basketball authorities plenty of time to choose most suitable person to coach the national team going forward.