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2012 Olympics Preview: China

As is becoming tradition, a male Chinese basketball player will be the flag bearer for in the Opening Ceremonies. Yi Jianlian might fit the bill to represent the fourth-largest delegation of 380 athletes.  (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
As is becoming tradition, a male Chinese basketball player will be the flag bearer for in the Opening Ceremonies. Yi Jianlian might fit the bill to represent the fourth-largest delegation of 380 athletes. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
Getty Images

China enters the 2012 Olympics vastly different than 2008. Rather than setting a team goal for finish, they're going into the Games just hoping to "play their best", coach Sun Fengwu has been quoted as saying. In May, that "best" resulted in a 98-71 defeat by the Los Angeles Sparks and a 100-62 loss at the hands of the U.S. national team in Seattle. In fact, China has gone 1-7 in preparation games (1-8 if you count the Sparks) with the win coming against Canada in May, taking the middle game of a three-game series north of the border.

Will this "no pressure" approach lead to strong team chemistry and victorious efforts? Or cause the team to lack confidence and drive?

China | Group A

Olympic Games history: China will see the Olympic court for the seventh time. They finished just shy of the podium in 2008 with a fourth-place finish.

Place at 2010 FIBA World Championship: 13th (2-3 overall record)

How they got here: 2011 FIBA Asia champions

Names you might recognize: Lijie Miao was the leading scorer during the Beijing 2008 competition, where the Chinese women reached their goal of a top four finish. She averaged 17.9 points per game to lead the way in the last Olympic tournament and brings a punch of veteran savvy to the squad. The 31-year-old is the oldest player on the Olympic roster.

Statistical leaders: Nan Chen led the team in scoring during the FIBA Asia qualifying tournament, putting up 18.3 points to go along with her team-high 8.2 rebounds a night. Miao and Zengyu Ma added 13.0 and 12.7 points and the Chinese squad averaged 78.3 points in each of their seven games.

Preliminary round schedule: vs. Czech Republic (July 28), vs. Croatia (July 30), vs. Angola (Aug. 1), vs. Turkey (Aug. 3), vs. U.S. (Aug. 5)