NBA unveils huge two-on-two event in China

AFP

The NBA will embark on its biggest
promotional event in

China
when it rolls out a “two-on-two” competition in 112 cities involving
up to 35,000 players, league officials said here Wednesday.

“This
is the biggest scope of events that the NBA has done on a grassroots-level ever
in this part of the world,” NBA China managing director Mark Fischer said.

“(It)
will allow us to bring an authentic NBA experience in new and exciting ways to
fans in all corners of

China
with a scope and reach that is unprecedented.”

Over
17,000 teams of two players each will compete in city-level tournaments
beginning next week, culminating with 448 finalists meeting in October when the
NBA brings the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic to

Shanghai for an exhibition match.

The
tournament is being co-sponsored by Motorola, Inc. which also announced
Wednesday a partnership with the NBA as the league’s “official mobile
phone”.

No
financial details of the multi-year partnership were revealed, while Fischer
would only say that the two-on-two tournament was “a major
investment.”

Eight NBA
trucks will travel different routes throughout the nation with eight cities,
including
Lhasa in
Tibet
and

Urumqi in
the western-most Xinjiang region, holding matches every weekend for 14
consecutive weeks.

Up to
78,000 games will be played in the tournament, which will be open free of
charge to both men and women over the age of 16.

The NBA
has made steady inroads into the Chinese market and is marking its 20th year of
airing league matches on state-run China Central Television.

Its
presence in China, where an estimated 300 million people play basketball, was
hugely boosted when seven-foot-six (2.26-metre) centre Yao Ming began his
career with the Houston Rockets in 2002.

In the
June NBA draft, two Chinese players were selected, with power forward Yi
Jianlian being taken by the Milwaukee Bucks as the sixth overall pick and point
guard Sun Yue going to the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round.