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Joe Alexander
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Warriors, Bucks to Close China Games in Beijing

By Art Garcia
Posted Oct 17 2008 10:23AM

They've visited the Great Wall, experienced the culture and were even fitted for new suits along the way. The Bucks and Warriors have made the most of their transcontinental jaunt.

All that's left is a basketball game.

"It's been a stunning visit so far," Warriors assistant Larry Riley said by phone during a bus ride from Beijing to the Great Wall. "Not only the countryside, but to see all the money that was spent for the Olympics.

"The things that you might expect from a country like China, it's far and away above any expectations I had. It's especially true in Beijing, which truly is a progressive city."

The finale of the NBA China Games between Milwaukee and Golden State is set for Saturday morning (11:30 p.m. EST Friday night) at Beijing's Olympic venue. ESPN2 is televising the contest.

The Bucks took the previous shindig, 98-94 on Wednesday, snapping a four-game skid to open the preseason and the tenure of coach Scott Skiles. Golden State stands at 2-2 halfway through its exhibition slate.

Both teams have been impressed by the enthusiasm, support and NBA knowledge from the Far East fans. The first contest drew a sellout crowd of 13,225 at Guangzhou Gymnasium. Never before had the NBA staged a game in the southern China city.

"These games are important to us," Riley said. "We may use them to play some guys we'd like to find out more about, like we would in the U.S.

"But the level was good enough that the Chinese people got to see good performances. They really embrace the game. It seems like the country knows a lot about the NBA."

Though he wasn't the leading scorer or rebounder, the unquestioned star of the first night was Bucks rookie Joe Alexander. The 6-8 forward, who played collegiately at West Virginia, is the first NBA player born in Taiwan. Further endearing him to the masses, Alexander speaks Mandarin and spent much of his childhood living in Beijing.

If that wasn't enough, Alexander scored 11 and helped lead a fourth-quarter rally along with Andrew Bogut, who scored 18 and grabbed 12 rebounds. Luke Ridnour (16 points and 12 assists) and Richard Jefferson (13 points) also turned in solid performances for the victorious side.

The trip to China was originally set up to showcase former Bucks lottery pick Yi Jianlian until an offseason trade to New Jersey dunked those plans. Give Milwaukee credit for calling a nice (unintended) audible with Alexander, who's been swarmed by reporters all week.

The Warriors were paced by Kelenna Azubuike (24 points) and Corey Maggette (16). Golden State led most of the game and took a 75-70 lead into the fourth quarter before Milwaukee rallied down the stretch.

On the recent injury front, Bucks sharpshooter Michael Redd (knee soreness) sat out Wednesday. He should be back on the floor in Beijing. The Warriors will likely hold out forward Al Harrington, who's nursing a sore knee.

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