As expected, the Sharks duo of Zhang Zhaoxu and Liu Wei have been named as part of the twenty-one man training squad for the upcoming London Olympics by former Shanghai coach and current China head honcho, Bob Donewald. The squad will be whittled down to twelve men in time for the big event in July.Its a bit late, I know (sorry, workload = crazy), but its still significant for Shanghai as both men will miss training time and most likely one or more of the preseason tours. There will be a more detailed analysis of the squad and when final cuts are made and hopefully there will be at least one Shark still assured of a visit to London this summer.
At thirty-two, this will almost certainly be Liu’s last taste of Olympic basketball and Donewald is unlikely to deprive a player he has worked with at both club and international one final chance to represent China. Guangdong’s Chen Jianghua and Liaoning’s Yang Ming will fight it out for the back up point guard spot.
However, the situation with Zhang is less clear cut. With Wang Zhizhi guaranteed a place, the Shanghai seven-footer will be fighting for a spot on the bench with Han Dejun and Li Xiaoxu (Liaoning Jaquars), Su Wei (Guangdong), and Wang Zhelin (Fujian Sturgeons). While the Fujian man should be considered an outside shot (as Niubball has pointed out, he is yet to even play in the CBA and has made the list following a strong showing in youth level internationals), Su, Li and Han are more serious prospects.
Zhang is training with the national team selection right now and Liu will join him on April 8th. My guess is that both will be playing this summer (Donewald has picked both men regularly in the past) although things could change before the final announcement is made.