May 1, 2006

Apologetic Wang earns recall to Chinese squad

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's first NBA star Wang Zhizhi has
earned a recall to the national team after four years in the
wilderness following his refusal to play in the 2002 Asian

Last month, an apologetic Wang returned to his homeland
admitting that he had made a mistake and asked to be
reconsidered for national duty.

The plea was successful and Wang was among the 18 players
announced by the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) on Sunday
for a training camp in preparation for the World Championships
in August, the official state news agency Xinhua said.

Wang paved the way for Chinese NBA players Yao Ming and
Menk Barteer when he signed for the Dallas Mavericks in 2001,
but the center was expelled from the national squad for opting
out of representing China in Busan, South Korea four years ago.

He has since stayed in the U.S. for a relatively
unsuccessful NBA career, marked by little playing time and
frequent team hopping. Back in China, he has been virtually
banned from state television.

However, Xinhua said on Sunday that the CBA had made public
a three-page written apology by Wang, which ultimately settled
the saga that had revolved around patriotism and individualism.

He reiterated that his defying Chinese sports authorities
was a "serious mistake" and he had put too much weight on
"personal interests" instead of "duties needed to be fulfilled
for the motherland and the army," Xinhua added.

Both injured, Yao and Barteer were left out of the youthful
squad, but either player could be included should they recover
in time.