China’s basketball team to play Russia in June, despite international ban

China’s men, meanwhile, will not be playing international basketball anytime soon, having failed to qualify for this summer’s Games in Paris.

The next possible international tournament for the Chinese team will be the 2027 Fiba World Cup in Qatar, if they make it out of the Asian qualifiers, which run from November 2025 to March 2027.

Russian coach Zoran Lukic said he had a deal with his Chinese counterpart Aleksandar Djordjevic (above) for their teams to play each other in China in June. Photo: Xinhua

In preparation for September’s event in Moscow and Yekaterinburg, Russian head coach Zoran Lukic said his side would play games against China in June.

“We are preparing for the Friendship Games,” the 52-year-old Serbian coach said. “We have an agreement with Sasha Djordjevic [head coach of the Chinese national team] and we will play two or three matches there in June.”

Former EuroBasket champion Aleksey Savrasenko believed the matches in China would be a great experience for the Russian team.

“I also played against China when Yao Ming was still playing for them,” the 45-year-old said. “The more such international games, the better it will be for the Russian team.

“When we play in another country in a fully-seated arena again, these international experiences are what our players need, they have to feel the atmosphere.”

However, just because the games are being planned, it does not necessarily mean they will take place.

Russia’s attempt to play against the Serbian men’s team last month was stopped, with Lukic telling sports news website there had been “pressure from above”.

The team eventually played a friendly against Samara, a Russian domestic team, during their training camp in Novogorsk and lost 78-77 in overtime.

“You can probably guess why our match didn’t take place,” Lukic told “I am confident that we will play a match against the Serbians. I can even talk to [Serbian head coach] Svetislav Pesic tomorrow and he will agree to play next week.

“But, there are some who will be against it. I also understand Serbia in this situation; it can be punished for this, why does it need this?”

Chinese basketball commentator Chen Zhenghao said he did not think it would be too problematic for the country to play against Russia, provided the games were not official matches.

“Whether it is Russia, or other European teams, even club teams, if China have chances to play against them, it is certain that we cannot let go of such an opportunity,” the former national team member said.

“We obviously don’t have too many international matches to play for now, so if we play against the Russians, who are much better, for us there are only advantages.”

China lost to Japan for the first time in 88 years at the Fiba Asia Cup qualifier last Sunday. Photo: Fiba

Without key players including centre Zhou Qi, guard Zhao Rui, forwards Wang Zhelin and Zhou Peng, who featured in the World Cup and Asian Games last year, China lost to Japan 76-73 in Tokyo last Sunday in their second Fiba Asia Cup qualifier.

It was their first loss to the Japanese in an official Fiba match since the 1936 Berlin Olympics, 88 years ago. China were also undefeated against Japan in 16 Asia Cup matches and qualifiers.

China will host Guam in the second Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers window on November 21, before travelling to Ulaanbaatar to face Mongolia three days later.

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