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Despite the uncertainty brought about by the late venue change, Xu Limin, head coach of China's national women's basketball team, remains upbeat on his side's prospects in the upcoming Olympic qualifiers.|
Basketball's global governing body FIBA declared on Monday that China would play its Olympic qualifiers in Belgrade rather than Foshan, owing to concerns regarding the spread of novel coronavirus in China.
Xu acknowledged that the loss of home advantage would disrupt his side's preparations.
"We thought about a possible change of competition site at the outset of the novel coronavirus outbreak. I had laid out a detailed plan for matches to be played in Foshan. However, this will not be the case, thus disrupting our training and traveling rhythm," he said on Tuesday.
China will face Spain, Britain and South Korea in qualifiers, with top three earning tickets to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
"Due to preparations for the Military World Games [held in Wuhan last October], and several players heading to overseas leagues, we moved our training program forward without a full roster for a long time last year. Now we have to lose our home advantage and face greater inconvenience due to the novel coronavirus outbreak."
"What we have encountered over the past couples of months was unprecedented. We are in the most difficult period ever in history," Xu noted.
But Xu still managed to put a brave face on the challenges ahead, taking it as a life lesson for every member in the squad.
"The experience will be beneficial to everybody. We should cherish the opportunity and dig out as much potential as possible to achieve the goal of qualifying for the Olympics."
"It's a team that can go through toughness and difficulty, motivating everyone inside to play their best," he added.
Chinese players were called upon on January 3. Xu said he felt the team was performing better in training than in the previous phase.
"In the previous stage, I felt that players were not at the same pace as some of them had just returned from the Military World Games.
"Now we are approaching the most important stage in fighting for an Olympic berth. After featuring in a series of league matches, they are now better motivated and are fully prepared in every aspect," he observed.
Source(s): Xinhua News Agency