Hong Kong turfed out of Asian Games basketball before it even tips off after sudden change in rules

The Hong Kong Basketball Association said it had been left in the dark after finding out their men’s team have been excluded from the Asian Games in Hangzhou with a month to go.

Association chairman Chan Sui-tim said on Thursday they only knew there had been a change of competition format last week, and that the 16 teams in Hangzhou would be directly decided by their world rankings, meaning Hong Kong, who are currently 25th in Asia, will not be able to take part.

“Our understanding had been that the top 12 teams plus four others determined by the preliminary round in Hangzhou would be able to compete in the Games,” Chan said. “And that is why we have formed the team and work on our preparation for the Games.

“But only last week we read some reports online about the format being changed. We immediately contacted some senior people in the sport and were told only the top 16 teams would compete in Hangzhou, with no preliminaries.

“We have since been in discussions with the Hong Kong Olympic Committee and FIBA Asia, and were told that we have to ask the Olympic Council of Asia for details, but have received nothing so far.”

Eastern Long Lions’ Lee Ki (centre) will no longer get the chance to retire from international duty on the grand stage of the Asian Games. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

Hong Kong’s men took part in the 2018 Asian Games basketball event, but finished bottom out of 13 teams in Jakarta.

According to the delegation list announced by the Olympic Committee last month, the men’s basketball team comprises 12 players including some well-known figures such as Lee Ki, Chan Siu-wing, Leung Shiu-wah, Duncan Reid, Tsai Choi-kwan, Adam Xu, Oliver Xu, and Ricky Yang.

Veteran Lee said he had planned to retire from the Hong Kong team after the Asian Games, but now it seems he will not get such an opportunity.

“The Asian Games is the highest level of competition in the region and if it is decided only the top 16 teams can participate, it will be detrimental to the development of the sport in Hong Kong and maybe our next few generations will never have the chance,” Lee said.

Hong Kong’s women’s team, however, will not be affected as they will feature in group B in Hangzhou along with Japan, the Philippines, and Kazakhstan.



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