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Yao Ming wannabes shoot for US training

EIGHTEEN Chinese teen hoopsters, Yao Ming wannabes, are training with an American basketball coach in hopes of winning further training in the United States.

The teens have been recruited in the second Liu Wei Basketball Training Camp. The six-day camp started last Wednesday under US coach Dan Regas who teaches teens back home in San Diego, southern California.

Liu Wei, head of the Chinese Men's Olympic Basketball Team, will also coach the camp sponsored by Adidas and UPS.

Several will be selected for more training in the States. Liu and Shanghai-native Houston Rocket star Yao Ming took part in a basketball training camp in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1998.

The youths from around China range in age from 12 to 15. They get skills training, take part in games and compete for prizes like best forward, best guard and player with the most potential.

It aims at potential basketball athletes younger than 16 years old who are recommended by their coaches.

Last year four boys were selected for further training in the States and impressed their US high school basketball teams.

"I hope my basketball training camp can help them fall in love with the sport and realize their dream through hard work," says Liu.

Liu remembers his own valuable training in the States.

"There were few high-level basketball camps with professional coaches when I was young. Yao Ming and I were the only two who got the chance to go to the training camp in America," says Liu. "I hope that I can do something similar for potential athletes in China, to repay Chinese basketball."

Recruiting is hard work. It took six months to select camp members last year. It took several months this year.

Some of the boys are already taller than 2 meters though they are only 13 to 14 years old.

"I believe that with good coaching and their hard work, they will have boundless prospects," says Regas.

Coach Regas and his team won 10 championships over the years in basketball league matches among 16 high schools in southern California.


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