The Chinese women's national basketball team has left for Europe for its final training before participating in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in Australia from September 22 to October 1.
Head coach Zheng Wei revealed that many of her players had gone through over 80 days of quarantine since they came back from the World Cup qualifiers in Belgrade. Their last training camp began on May 20 and it took the team a month to be back on track.
As a result, the national team has played very few games recently and Zheng is counting on the training camp in Europe to make up for lost time. They will go to France, followed by Spain, Belgium and Serbia before departing for Australia.
Forward Li Meng said every game the team can play will be very valuable. "We couldn't go to the U.S. or Europe as often as we used to because of COVID-19. We are glad to be able to play these games [in Europe] this time and we want to solve some of our problems we may face at the World Cup," she said.
"I think it's necessary for us to train in Europe this time," captain Yang Liwei said. "We only played in the WCBA after the Tokyo Olympics so we were a bit disconnected with the international basketball world. Playing against European opponents will be very important to our preparation for the World Cup."
Coach Zheng wants Han Xu and Li Yueru, who are both playing in the WNBA, to join the national franchise soon to they can grow familiar with the rest of the team.
"The WNBA regular season will be over on August 15. It's unclear if their teams will make the playoffs," Zheng said. "We want Han and Li to join us as soon as possible. They haven't trained with the national team for half a year, which has never happened before. I hope they can join us in Europe and get familiar with the teammates."
Zheng revealed that the Chinese national team has been collecting information on their opponents at the World Cup for a long time. They studied their games at the Tokyo Olympics, the World Cup qualifiers and even the recent friendlies.
"I believe teams qualified for the World Cup are all strong. None has absolute advantage over others. USA and Australia are the traditional powerhouses, but the rest of us are in close competitions. It will be all up to your performance on the court," Zheng said.
China are in a group with the USA, Bosnia and Herzegovina, South Korea and Puerto Rico at the World Cup.