The day finally came. Xin Lan-chen, president of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) announced yesterday SINA basketball team from Taiwan officially join the CBA, which now has 13 teams, starting from 2001-02 season. It marks the first time of any Taiwanese sports team entering a Chinese organization.
SINA will play under the new team name of "Taiwan-Suchou SINA Lions" and based in Suchou, a southeastern city in China. SINA is allowed to submit a 17-man roster, five more than other teams, and have two TRANSFER PLAYERS (from other teams) because of their first-year status, the league office says.
SINA basketball team and SINA.com president Daniel Jiang is optimistic about the future of SINA in the Chinese league. "From my observation, I believe SINA is better than most Chinese teams - skillwise. Obviously we are relatively undersized compared to other teams, but I still believe we can finish in the top six in the league", Jiang says.
The acceptance brings a sigh of relief from ESV CEO Daniel Tu. "During the negotiation, both sides agreed to be low-key and keep any inside track from leaking out. We don't want to make this a political matter between China and Taiwan. This is a strictly sports business operation and has nothing to do with politics", says Tu. ESV - E-ternational Sports Venture - is a company founded by Daniel Jiang which owns the SINA team and invest in other sports business, like Asian Basketball Association.
Tu stresses that SINA decides to join the CBA because of the downfall of sports business in Taiwan. Hs says' "All we want to do is give the players a stage to showcase their skills. We are also confident that SINA will make the CBA even more entertaining and exciting."
Led by Lo Shin-liang and Huang Chung-hsiung, two of the biggest names in Taiwanese basketball, SINA will arrive in Suchou on October 5th and start pre-season training camp on October 8th. The 2001-02 CBA season will tip-off on December 8th.
SINA is consisted of players mostly from Hong-kuo Elephant, the three-time champion of Taiwan's defuncted CBA (Chinese Basketball Alliance). Daniel Jiang took over the team after Hong-kuo Corp. decided to release the entire team due to financial crisis.
ESV will still field a SINA team in Taiwan's A-League. The team is consisted of mostly younger players and will be coached by team consultant Hu Tsai-lin. Taiwan-Suchou SINA Lions will be coached by Chiu Da-tsun, head coach of the original Hong-kuo and later SINA team.