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Olympics: Zhang Ning eager to 'enjoy playing' basketball in Paris

Sports Scene

 , Updated 16:34, 25-Jun-2024

Zhang Ning has been a key member of China's 3X3 men's basketball team. The 27-year-old only entered the smaller format last year and after initially struggling to adapt, has now become the backbone of the side.

Zhang's journey wasn't without a few hoops to get through. In May 2023, during World Cup qualifiers, Zhang was penalized for three technical fouls in a single game, which led to a defeat and the team missing out on the finals.

But he started to make a mental comeback after that disappointment and at last October's Chengdu Masters, Zhang led his Serbian Liman team to victory, becoming the first Chinese player to win the MVP trophy at that event, where he was also top scorer. 

For Paris, China enter the tournament sitting third in the world rankings and hoping to improve on their eighth-place finish from Tokyo three years ago. Zhang didn't feature in Japan and is now raring to go for his Olympic debut.

"I want to enjoy playing at the Paris Olympics. 3X3 basketball is different from 5-on-5, it's about enjoying the small interactions between two or three players. It's not just a way of playing, it's a mindset. I'm eager to fully immerse myself, bring out my best, and hope to steer the team towards victory," Zhang said.

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