ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (22nd FIBA Asia U18 Championship): Coach Wang Huaiyu of China takes his own time to answer any query regarding the China U18 team participating here. But when he does begin the reply after a serious contemplation, the words flow with clarity without any hindrance.
Take this for example.
Wang Zhelin has been the buzz of Chinese basketball ever since he was left out of the Chinese roster for the 2012 London Olympics in the final cut. Obviously when the 215-cm arrived here he was not only the center in the playing formation for China, but the center of all attention.
Ask Wang Huaiyu about Wang Zhelin.
“I think he can improve lots more before becoming a formidable player,” Wang Haiyu said after ruminating the thought for a while.
But the explanation comes very quick.
“I think there is scope for improvement in his offense plays. He can be a great player. Somehow he is not allowing himself to blossom completely. It’s probably age and lack of experience. There is also this tremendous media exposure. I think he gets drawn in when such things happen. As coaches it is our job to ensure that he becomes the strong player he can and should be,” explained the 46-year-old coach of the Guangdong Southern Tigers junior teams.
China have brought three giants – the well known Zhou Qi standing at 217 cms and the 205-cm Dai Huaibo – sending shivers down every rival coach’s spine at the pre-game lay-ups itself.
“Well I think it’s for the first time in history that we have very good players with great potential who are of this size. I think the day comes these three play together for the China National Team will bring one of the biggest results in our history,” he says.
That led us to the obvious question: How long before any of the youngsters make the China National Team?
Again there’s that long pause in his speech with face indicing the thought flow in his mind.
“Not in the near future. Wang Zhelin is probably the closest in reaching that destination, but even he has things to learn before playing for the National Team. If China needs to perform well at the world basketball stage, I think we need to give time to these youngsters to grow and get ready.
“This is a team that should be looked at for 2020 Olympics. We can rush these youngsters and dominate at the Asian level. But if we have to get some good results in world competitions, we have to wait,” he said.
We don’t mind waiting coach!
S Mageshwaran / FIBA Asia