FIBA: Chinese fans despair of World Cup ‘deepest humiliation’

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China and Puerto Rico play a FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup match at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on August 30, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ​​ABS-CBN News

BEIJING, China – Chinese basketball fans were left devastated on Thursday after the national team crashed out of the World Cup without winning a game, calling the dismal performance “our deepest humiliation”.

China needed to win their final group game on Wednesday night and hope other results went their way, but were outclassed by Puerto Rico 107-89.

Fans vented on social media, where a hashtag about their three straight losses in the tournament co-hosted by Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia has garnered tens of millions of views.

“We have never won a single game since we started participating in the World Cup – this is our deepest humiliation in 45 years,” said one comment on the popular Weibo platform.

“Our performances couldn’t have been worse even if I was the leader,” wrote another user.

Basketball is very popular in China, and broadcasts of NBA games usually attract huge audiences.

The Chinese women’s team is a global powerhouse, but the men have failed to live up to expectations in recent years despite an influx of naturalized overseas players.

“If I felt helpless during the first two games, after watching today’s game, I feel speechless,” scholar Jia Lei wrote on Weibo.

“Perhaps all the expectations in such moments give us illusions (of grandeur),” he said.

China hosted the last men’s World Cup in 2019, but they finished 24th and failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, and are currently ranked 27th in the world.

“If China wants to… rejoin the strongest global teams, we need to increase the competitiveness of our domestic leagues and (better) nurture the talents we have,” sports expert Ran Xiongfei wrote on Weibo.

Widespread corruption and match-fixing investigations in the CBA, China’s top domestic league, have dampened enthusiasm for many fans in recent years.

Some have unfavorably compared the national side to an emerging grassroots league whose amateur players are rural farmers.

“Is anyone saying they even think a men’s team could win in ‘CunBA’?” read one Weibo comment using the league’s popular acronym.

Others saw an opportunity for slanted rants about the country’s recent social and economic woes.

“Why watching the men’s team… is like watching our (last) imperial dynasty play against the industrial revolution?” one Weibo user wrote.

Another joked: “Sports is a microcosm of our society.”

© Agence France-Presse

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