Liberty Among Four WNBA Teams to Face Chinese National Women's Team This Spring

NEW YORK, April 4, 2011 – The WNBA preseason will continue to take on an international flavor this spring when the Chinese National Women's Basketball Team is slated to tip off against four WNBA teams here in the United States.

The Chinese National Women's Basketball Team is scheduled to play preseason games against the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on May 19, and against the New York Liberty at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., on May 27. In between, the Chinese squad scrimmages against the Mystics in Washington, D.C., on May 21, and in Chicago two days later versus the Sky. The Chinese squad closes out its WNBA slate on May 30 with a three-way scrimmage involving the Liberty and the Sun at the Liberty’s training center in White Plains, N.Y.

This is the latest cooperation between the NBA and the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) who have a long history of working together to grow the game of basketball in China. In 1986, the NBA first hosted the Chinese National Men’s Basketball Team with exhibition games in the U.S. The NBA and CBA have worked together to stage five sets of NBA China Games and are currently conducting a joint coaching program and developing an elite basketball training facility for youth. Last season, the Chinese National Women’s Basketball Team played three preseason games in the U.S. against the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, San Antonio Silver Stars and Phoenix Mercury.

Along with the games against the Chinese National Team, the 2011 WNBA preseason also includes a comprehensive schedule of games against international teams, including games against teams from Great Britain and Japan. The Phoenix Mercury hosts the JX Sunflowers, 2010 champions of the Women's Japan Basketball League at US Airways center on May 24. Five days later, on May 29, the defending Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Dream is slated to participate in the first WNBA game to be played in Europe. The game against the Standard Life Great Britain Women’s National Team will be played at the 18,095-seat Manchester Evening News Arena as part of a new, multiyear partnership between the Manchester City Council and the National Basketball Association.

A leading power in women’s basketball in Asia, the Chinese National Women's Basketball Team currently ranks eighth in the world according to FIBA. China, the host nation for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, reached the semifinals in the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.

“My experience in international play is that China has been highly competitive; they were really good at the most recent Olympics and have worked their way up in the world ranking,” said Mike Thibault, current head coach of the Sun and an assistant coach on the gold medal-winning United States women’s team at the 2008 Olympics. “They have players capable of playing in our league, so we'll be up against a good team. This will be a good first test to tip off our season and it will be a good way for a number of WNBA teams to prepare.”

These contests against international foes follow the 2010 preseason in which the Los Angeles Sparks, San Antonio Silver Stars and the Phoenix Mercury hosted the China National Team, and the Connecticut Sun hosted the Poland National Team.

A global league featuring the best female players from around the world, including 20 international players hailing from 13 countries last season, WNBA games and programming were televised in 203 countries and territories in 27 languages in 2010.

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