China's coach Xu upbeat ahead of women's Olympic basketball qualifiers

BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Despite challenges ahead in the Olympic qualifiers, China's women's basketball team head coach Xu Limin remained confident in his players in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"We will fully prepare for difficulties ahead, while maintaining our confidence and resolution at the same time. I trust everyone in the team in finishing the job," he noted.

After finishing as runners-up at the FIBA Asian Cup last month, the Chinese side will play in the Olympic Asia-Oceania pre-qualifying tournament in November against South Korea, New Zealand and the Philippines, with top two teams in the group advancing to the Olympic qualifying tournament next February.

Promising center duo Han Xu and Li Yueru joined Sun Mengran, Wang Xuemeng and Li Meng as departures from the national team to participate in the 7th Military World Games. Constant player changes during the team's preparation have posed unprecedented challenges for Xu in his third year since taking charge of the team.

"The third year is vital to any coach in his stint, as it is the time when the team becomes mature in techniques and tactics, and has a clear vision of players' positions, but this is not the scenario for me.

"We need to approach this situation in a positive manner, and limit the difficulties pressure and uncertainty as much as we can through our concerted efforts," Xu emphasized.

"We haven't met them before, but we can approach the meeting as a test and treasure the experience. I think everyone in the team can benefit from what we have experienced in the future," he added.

Xu revealed that the team is focused on improving individual defense, ball possession and fitness training after the Asian tournament.

"We face tough challenges indeed, but nobody has complained about it. Everyone does her own part to help the team achieve our goal of qualifying for the Olympics," Xu pointed out.

To serve for the long-term benefit of the team, Xu offered chances to Guo Zixuan, Chen Mingling and Shi Xiaoye at the Asia Cup, and thinks these newcomers have exceeded expectations.

"Although we didn't win the Asia Cup, these newcomers made their contribution in their capabilities," Xu said.

China got past the upcoming three pre-qualifying opponents with a large margin at the Asia Cup, but coming into Olympic qualifiers, Xu sees it through a different perspective.

"South Korea didn't dispatch their full squad to the Asia Cup, but the situation will be totally different in Olympic qualifiers. We need to prepare for possible difficulty ahead," Xu admitted.

As for New Zealand, host of Olympic Asia-Oceania pre-qualifying tournament, Xu said that the opponents didn't play their best at the Asian Cup, and the Chinese side will be in difficulty if performing below par.

"Relatively speaking, we have the biggest possibility of defeating the Philippines, but we cannot take it for granted," Xu noted.

For Xu, every match in Olympic qualifiers will be do-or-die.

"We are a young team. Everything hinges on our preparation and performance during the competition," he pointed out.

"We cannot offer any excuse because of difficulties ahead. We need to take our fate in our own hands," Xu concluded.

[ Editor: ZY ]


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