NBA D-League Ambassadors Travel To China For Stankovic Cup

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The NBA Development League Ambassadors, a team made up of D-League All Stars, will travel to China to participate in the Third Annual Stankovic Cup later this month, the NBA D-League, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the Chinese Basketball Association jointly announced today. The D-League Ambassadors will play five games in six days beginning July 28 with the first two games in Guangzhou and the final three games in Macao.

"Our involvement in this tournament is the most recent step in the NBA’s cooperation with China in an effort to grow the sport of basketball in the country and share our knowledge and experience,” said NBA Development League President Dan Reed. “The opportunity to send some of our best players to China to compete for the Stankovic Cup is an exciting one for our league. This is a wonderful chance to show the world the talent level that exists in the D-League as they compete against some very talented national teams.”

“As host nation for the Stankovic Cup, we welcome the D-League Ambassadors, Angola, New Zealand, Slovenia and Venezuela to China, and look forward to their match-ups against the China National Team,” said Li Yuanwei, Executive Vice President and Secretary General of Chinese Basketball Association. “Their participation underscores the overwhelming popularity of basketball in China, and fans’ appreciation for quality international basketball competition.”

 

26-year NBA veteran Larry Smith will coach the D-League Ambassadors.
Juan Ocampo/NBAE/Getty Images
The D-League Ambassadors are coached by 26-year NBA veteran Larry Smith, who has won titles as an assistant coach in both the NBA and the D-League. Smith spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, a period that included back-to-back titles in 1993-94 and 1994-95. He also had NBA coaching stints with the Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers. During the 2005-06 season, Smith was an assistant on Michael Cooper’s staff for the D-League champion Albuquerque Thunderbirds. He also has been a head coach in the D-League with the Anaheim Arsenal. Smith’s playing career over 13 NBA seasons included stints with the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.

The 10-player D-League squad is led by D-League Defensive Player of the Year Renaldo Major (Dakota). All-NBA D-League honorable mention performers Cheyne Gadson (Austin/Tulsa), Quemont Greer (Dakota), Eugene “Pooh” Jeter (Colorado), Kevin Lyde (Dakota) and Clay Tucker, along with Lance Allred (Idaho), Eddy Fobbs (Albuquerque/Sioux Falls), Rick Rickert (Colorado) and Terrance Thomas round out the Ambassadors roster. The Ambassadors will hold two days of practice in Oakland, CA on July 23-24 prior to departing for China on July 25.

Besides the D-League Ambassadors, the six-team Stankovic Cup field will consist of the national teams from Angola, China, New Zealand, Slovenia and Venezuela. Each team will play five games in single round-robin play. The team with the best record at the end of the tournament will win the Stankovic Cup.

The Stankovic Continental Champions Cup was founded by FIBA President, Dr. Carl Men Ky Ching. The purpose of this Cup is to honor Borislav Stankovic, FIBA Secretary General Emeritus, for his significant contribution to the world of basketball. Being the only Chinese president of the 28 International Sport Federations, Dr. Carl Men Ky Ching selected China as the host country for the Cup. The Cup was organized to promote basketball in that country and to provide an opportunity for the Chinese Men’s National Team to compete with other international champions.

Dakota's Renaldo Major will be a member of the D-League Ambassadors.
Dave Eggen/NBAE/Getty Images
“We are excited for the basketball fans of China. They can look forward to some top notch basketball action, with six top teams from five continents including the NBA D-League Ambassadors, competing in the upcoming Stankovic Cup,” said Dr. Carl Men Ky Ching, Life Honorable President of FIBA. “This tournament is going from strength to strength as evidenced by the quality of the participating teams and the great fan support we receive.”

The tournament tips off for the D-League Ambassadors on July 28 when they face Slovenia at Tianhe Gymnasium in Guangzhou at 9 p.m. local time. The Ambassadors will also play New Zealand in Guangzhou (July 29, 9 p.m.) before moving to Tap Saek Gymnasium in Macao for three games from July 31-Aug. 2. The D-League will play Venezuela on July 31 (4 p.m.), Angola on Aug. 1 (4 p.m.) and host China on Aug. 2 (7:30 p.m.) in Macao.

Basketball is rapidly becoming the most popular sport in China with more than 300 million participants and 83 percent of people 15-24 saying that they are NBA fans. The NBA has four offices in greater China, airs programming with 51 Chinese telecasters, will organize more than 100 events this year and sells merchandise in more than 50,000 retail locations. In October, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic will participate in the NBA China Games 2007, competing in Shanghai and Macao. The Magic will also play the Chinese National Team in Macao.

The voyage to China will be the third international trip for the D-League Ambassadors in the league’s history. In the summer of 2000, the Ambassadors participated in the Asian Basketball Association League, finishing with an 18-2 record and winning the league championship. In 2001, the D-League squad participated in the South American Club Championship in Brazil and Argentina and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Entering its seventh season, the NBA Development League – the NBA’s minor league established to develop talent across all disciplines for the NBA – has relocated its headquarters from Greenville, S.C. to New York City to help foster the D-League's continued growth by giving it direct access to the support and resources of the NBA and WNBA. During the 2006-07 season, 19 NBA teams assigned 24 players to D-League rosters, and 14 NBA teams called-up 16 players (‘Gatorade Call-ups’) while 31 D-League alumni participated in the NBA Playoffs. Additionally, every referee hired by the NBA since 2002 has worked in the D-League, while coaches, athletic trainers and front office executives are also being developed. The 2007-08 NBA season will also include the first-ever D-League coach to be promoted to the NBA with Sam Vincent taking over head coaching duties for the Charlotte Bobcats.

2007 NBA Development League Ambassadors

Number
Player (2006-07 D-League Team)
Pos.
Ht.
Wt.
Birthdate
College
9
Center
6-11
270
2/2/81
Weber State
40
Forward/Center
6-11
235
9/17/80
Sam Houston State
15
Guard
6-2
205
9/17/80
Oklahoma State
32
Forward
6-7
240
12/5/81
DePaul
12
Guard
5-11
175
12/2/83
Portland
42
Center
6-10
270
3/12/80
Temple
1
Forward
6-6
190
5/7/82
Fresno State
14
Forward/Center
6-11
235
2/11/83
Minnesota
23
Forward
6-6
230
12/29/80
Baylor
24
Guard
6-3
195
6/14/80
Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Head Coach: Larry Smith
Assistant Coach: Doug Marty
Athletics Trainer: Johan Wang