MADRID, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese women's basketball team will take a step forward in quality thanks to the work of former player Yao Ming and the Federation he currently presides over, Jorge Garbajosa, the President of the Spanish Basketball Federation told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
Speaking a week before the Women's Basketball World Championships are due to start on the island of Tenerife, Garbajosa, who like Yao, spent part of his career in the NBA, explained that China have a "physically strong side, with a style of play that will make their rivals uncomfortable, but they still lack that extra something they need in order to take a step forward and reach a higher level."
Garbajosa did however, add that "with Yao Ming and the work of the Chinese Federation, that step forward can arrive."
He then went on to highlight the good relationships between the two national bodies. "They are working well, especially in women's basketball. In fact they sent a delegation here (to Spain) a few months ago and we explained the way we work to them, due to the good relationship we have," he explained.
The Spanish Basketball chief said he and Yao had a "good friendship" and that they had "taught them to compete from a young age and to have a good talent spotting system. It's obvious that the future is in their hands," he commented.
However, Garbajosa was realistic when it came to naming the favorites for the tournament which starts on September 22. "The United States are on a different level, while France are also strong and then there are other great sides such as Canada, Australia or China," he said, without ruling out a good performance from hosts Spain, who won the 2013 European Championships.
The Spanish were also silver medalists at the 2014 World Championships and at the 2016 Olympic Games. "Our objective is [to reach] the quarterfinals and after that everything else will be a bonus," he said.