DANDONG, China, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- For the first time in the Chinese basketball history, a private middle school team has won the national U15 championship.
Hailiang School from Zhejiang Province beat Guangdong Experimental Middle School 95-57 in the final of the National U15 Men's Basketball Finals on Monday to pocket its first national title.
For this private middle school from Hailiang Education, the national title might have come earlier as it won the North Zone in 2019, but the Finals was cancelled due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
"We started our basketball project in 2017, and these players have played with each other for two to three years. Now the students with basketball talents throughout the country are coming to our school," said team manager Mao Weilin.
Forward and center Wang Junjie, who was born in 2005 and is already 2.05-meter tall (6 feet and 8 inches), won the Most Valuable Player award of the Finals with his dominating ability on the board.
"I started playing basketball when I was four. I like to play the three or four position (forward)," the promising star said.
Second-placed Guangdong Experimental Middle School team represented Guangdong Province to compete in the Finals for the first time, and being runner-up was beyond even their own expectations.
"We thought of top eight, but not second," said head coach Qu Shaobin, who is also the head coach of the Guangdong Hongyuan youth team.
The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) team joined forces with the middle school in November, 2019, so that Guangdong's second-string players could go to school and local students could also join the team through normal school.
"We are the first CBA team which has cooperated with a local normal school. Now the players can study with other students and the ones who have talent might join the professional team," Qu said.
Yang Yi, a 1.74-meter (5 feet and 7 inches) guard, is the pivot for Guangdong, but he might not have had the chance to play at the elite level tournament considering his height, if he hadn't benefited from the cooperation between the CBA team and the school.
More and more teams are searching for a new method to attract talented students from schools. CBA teams from Guangdong, Zhejiang and Shandong are eyeing local famous basketball schools, and some schools are building up their own teams to represent their provinces.
For the students and their families, they have more promising futures when they are learning basketball as they are also studying towards educational degrees in college.
"It took only three years to become the national champions. That means we are on the right path, and we are going to continue on this path," Mao added. Enditem