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China to see basketball Magic
The NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic will play in Shanghai and Macau.
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2007 07:37 GMT

Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard will be shooting hoops in China this week [GALLO/GETTY]

Shanghai and Macau will host American National Basketball Association (NBA) teams the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic this week as the sport's drive into China continues.
Basketball is hugely popular in China, where an estimated 300 million people play the sport, with Chinese stars Yao Ming from the Houston Rockets and Yi Jianlian from the Milwaukee Bucks fuelling local interest.
Such enthusiasm for the sport in a country of 1.3 billion people offers the chance of more revenue for the NBA, through advertising, merchandise sales and television rights.
 
"China is the number one market for the NBA outside the US," Matt Bourne, NBA spokesman, told AFP ahead of the pre-season games in Shanghai, China's most modern city, and the glitzy gambling hub of Macau.
 
"We hope the NBA China Games 2007 will give our great fans in China an opportunity to experience the NBA up close and personal."
 
In recognition of the Asian giant's growing interest in the sport, organisers set up NBA China last month, a subsidiary that hopes to move towards an eventual NBA-managed Chinese domestic league.
 

"We hope the NBA China Games 2007 will give our great fans in China an opportunity to experience the NBA up close and personal."

Matt Bourne,
NBA spokesman

The Chinese national league is already a major draw on television, and the NBA wants to link up with the China Basketball Association (CBA) to increase fans' interest in the US game.
 
"In the United States the development of basketball has already reached a certain saturation point," Li Yuanwei, chief of the CBA, told Basketball Pioneers, the sport's biggest newspaper in China.
 
"China is huge and it's a unified market so that's why China has the chance to follow after Europe and develop the world's only newly flourishing professional basketball market."
 
All eyes on Yi
 

NBA Commissioner David Stern, left, welcomes
Yi Jianlian, right, to the NBA [GALLO/GETTY]

After Yao was selected as the first overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft, the US league drew so much interest that 51 Chinese television networks now carry NBA games and a weekly basketball show.
 
Yi, who was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the draft's first round this year, is expected to further boost the club's fan base in China as he begins his first season in the NBA.
 
"There is a lot of anticipation surrounding Yi's NBA debut both in the US and China," said Bourne.
 
While the NBA boasts lucrative advertising partnerships in China with 20 major global brands, it also holds regular basketball training camps throughout the country to take the sport to aspiring young athletes.
 
The Cavaliers, who made it to the NBA Finals last season, will face the Magic on Wednesday in Shanghai before travelling to Macau for another match on Saturday.
 
The Magic will also play the Chinese national team in Macau on Thursday making them only the second NBA team to face China since the Washington Bullets played in 1979 in the league's first Chinese foray.
 
This year's venture will be the third time that the NBA has played pre-season games in China, the first being three years ago when Yao's Rockets met the Sacramento Kings in Shanghai and Beijing.
Source:
Agencies
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