A Guide to the China Men’s Basketball Team
Traditionally a powerhouse of Asian basketball, the China men’s basketball team, known as Team Dragon, have won 16 FIBA Asia Cup gold medals and eight golds at the Asian Games. They’ve also made nine appearances at the Olympic Games and made their 10th appearance at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2023.
With this team guide from the basketball aficionados at Courtside 1891, you can discover everything there is to know about the China men’s basketball team, including their historic achievements, former legends and up-and-coming talents.
How Did China Do At The FIBA World Cup 2023?
Here are the key stats from China's FIBA Basketball World Cup campaign:
- → Final Standing: 29th
- → Results: Played 5 Won 1 Lost 4
- → Top Points Scorer: Kaier Li (Kyle Anderson) 65 PTS (13.0 PPG)
- → Top Assist Provider: Jiwei Zhao 20 AST (4.0 APG)
- → Most Efficient Player: Kaier Li (Kyle Anderson) 13.8 EPG
China were disappointingly swept in Group B by Serbia, Puerto Rico and South Sudan before their only World Cup 2023 win came against fellow low scorers Angola in a 83-76 victory. A disappointing 29th ranking also meant China missed out on one of the Asia spots for the Olympic qualification tournaments.
Check out highlights from their World Cup win over Angola below.
Team Presentation Video
Keen to learn more about Team Dragon before FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 tips off later this summer? Watch our Team Discovery Video below. It will provide you with plenty of info, stats and facts you can share with your buddies next time you hit the court.
China World Cup Qualification
The China basketball team began the qualification process for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 in Group B, alongside Australia, Japan and Chinese Taipei. In their six group games, they went 4-2, only losing to Australia on occasions. As a result, they finished in second place and moved onto the second and final round of qualifying.
Here, they were placed in Group F, alongside Australia, Japan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Bahrain. In these six matchups, they really asserted their dominance, going 6-0 and qualifying for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 with ease.
When results from the first phase of qualifying were carried over, they finished with a 10-2 record. This record was particularly impressive because, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, China didn’t play any qualification games at home.
Best World Cup Qualification Plays
China used a stable core of players during qualifying, with nine players featuring in at least eight games.
Statistically, Team Dragon’s star was Zhou Qi. In nine games and 206 minutes of action, he poured in 150 points and grabbed 92 rebounds. He ended the campaign with a cumulative +/- of +91 and an efficiency rating of 190. He led the team in all four stats!
Keen to learn more about the team’s style of basketball and star players? Watch the video of the team’s Top 10 plays from qualifying below.
Current Star Players
China announced a preliminary 18-man roster for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 back in June where the headline names were the so-called ‘Twin Towers’ of Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin.
Zhou Qi was primed to make a statement at the tournament, aged 27 and entering his prime, he’s been a core member of the China team for the best part of a decade but he was only able to play 18 minutes a game, contributing an average of 10 points a game and only playing 8 minutes against the Philippines.
He made his debut for the national team in 2014 at the Asian Games. A year later, he helped China capture the FIBA Asia Cup. In the championship game, he had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Unsurprisingly, he was named to the tournament’s All-Star Five. He also helped the team win gold at the 2018 Asian Games and made his World Cup debut with the squad in 2019.
In their initial extended roster announcement, China made it clear that other players could be added at a later date. This was proven to be the case at the end of July, when experienced NBA vet Kyle Anderson announced that he will be representing China at the World Cup. Anderson - Chinese name Li Kaier - has long been in touch with his Chinese heritage. He’s also coming off a productive year in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game.
Legends of the Team
At 7’ 1” Zhou Qi is seen as the natural successor to the man responsible for the explosion in popularity of basketball in China. Team Dragon fans talk about one man more than any other, the legendary and incomparable, Yao Ming.
A 7ft 6in center, Ming is one of the most recognisable big men to ever play the game. He made his debut with the national team at the Olympics in 2000, where he formed ‘the walking Great Wall’ along with teammates Wang Zhizhi and Mengke Bateer.
Following this, he was a dominant force on the international stage, powering China to three successive FIBA Asia Cup victories in 2001, 2003 and 2005. In all three tournaments, he was named MVP.
Then, at the 2006 FIBA Basketball World Cup, he guided China to the round of 16 almost single handedly. In the last game of the preliminary round, he had 36 points and 10 rebounds in a win against Slovenia. He ended the tournament as its top scorer, averaging 25.3 points per game.
Injury threatened an appearance at a home Olympics in 2008, but Ming recovered in time and was given the honor of carrying the Olympic flame into Tiananmen Square. He also carried the Chinese flag and led his country's delegation during the opening ceremony. When the tournament tipped off, he was central to China’s campaign and he led the team to the quarter finals.
Domestically, Ming joined the NBA in 2002, when he was the number one pick in the draft. Across eight seasons with the Houston Rockets, he played in almost 500 games, was named to 8 All-Star teams and was voted onto an All-NBA Team five times.
A true star of the game, Yao Ming remains one of China’s best-known athletes. He’s also currently the President of the Chinese Basketball Association and was voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
Keen to learn even more about Yao Ming’s career? Check out the video below.
Historical World Cup Performance
In 2023, China made their 10th appearance at the FIBA Basketball World Cup. The China basketball team has only made the quarter-finals stage once, back in 1994 when they were classified as the 8th-best team.
But, back in 2006, China were also part of one of the greatest games in the history of the tournament. Powered by 36 points and 10 rebounds from Yao Ming, they edged past Slovenia 78-77 in the group stage after Wang Shipeng drilled a buzzer-beating three-pointer that sent the crowd wild. You can watch highlights from this amazing back-and-forth matchup below.
Previous Successes and Tournament Wins
China have also contested nine Olympic basketball tournaments. Basketball China haven’t claimed a medal at the tournament and their best finish was also 8th, which they achieved in 1996, 2004 and 2008.
They have enjoyed a phenomenal amount of success at the FIBA Asia Cup. Since they first entered the competition in 1975, they’ve won 16 gold medals in 23 appearances. They’ve also captured a silver and two bronze medals at the tournament. To give you an idea of exactly how dominant China were at their peakt, a Yao Ming-powered China won their games at the 2001 FIBA Asia Cup by an average of 43 points!
On top of this impressive medal haul, they’ve also won eight gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze medal at the Asian Games.
How to Watch China Men's Basketball
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