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Physical play nets record fines

CHINA'S attempts to bring more contact into the domestic game is behind the increase in violence on court and has contributed to a rise in crowd disorder, the country's basketball chief said yesterday.

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming was one of several critics who said the non-contact style prevalent in the China Basketball Association league was producing players who were not tough enough for the international game.

After Yao and the national team bowed out of last August's Beijing Olympics in the quarterfinals, CBA teams were instructed to get more physical this season.

"After the Olympics, we realized that unless we strengthened our physical presence, Chinese basketball would not be able to compete with the world's best," CBA chief Liu Xiaonong said.

After the directive, however, a record 960,000 yuan (US$140,500) in fines have been doled out so far this season, some to players for violence on and off the court and some to teams for crowd trouble.

"Some (teams) have been punished for their misbehaving fans, who were outraged partly because they did not understand the new standards the referees must enforce," Liu added.

"The league has not done a good enough job in getting the message about physicality out."

The new directive has exposed the poor quality of some of the officiating in the 18-team league, leading to a string of controversial decisions, particularly in calling fouls.

"There is too great a distance between the standard of refereeing and what is required at this competitive level," Liu said, adding that a working group had been set up to improve standards with NBA officials would be invited to instruct Chinese referees.


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