Thu, Apr 17, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Taiwan's basketball team in China says it is quitting league

STAFF WRITER , WITH AP, BEIJING

The country's best basketball team which joined the Chinese Basketball Association two years ago has now quit the league after two dismal seasons, the official Chinese Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

The Sina Lions, who finished next to last in the 2002/2003 season, informed the league that it was dropping out, the agency quoted Wang Du, the CBA's deputy director, as saying.

``We understand the Lions' decision,'' Wang said. ``If they ask to return to the Chinese leagues in the future, we can have discussions on it.''

No one answered calls at the CBA and Sina Lions offices after business hours yesterday.

Before moving to China, Sina was one of the best teams in Taiwan's ailing league, winning the title three years in a row between 1996 to 1998.

But during their CBA debut in 2001/2002, the Lions finished eighth out of 13 teams. They finished last season with a 7-19 record.

Xinhua said Sina President Jiang Fengnian told reporters last month that the team planned to leave the CBA because of financial problems, a lack of reserve players and poor refereeing.

The formerly quasi-professional Sina Basketball Team decided to proceed to China to join the A-class league competition, despite objections from the government.

It accused Sina of risking "dwarfing" Taiwan's status, according to a statement from the Mainland Affairs Council.

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