As part of an ongoing exchange of expertise, Euroleague Basketball welcomed the reigning champion head coach of the Chinese Basketball Association, Min Lulei of the Beijing Ducks, to its headquarters in Barcelona, Spain on Wednesday. Coach Min is enjoying a prolonged visit to Europe that began when he was a guest of Euroleague Basketball in May at the 2012 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four in Istanbul. He was given a tour of Euroleague Basketball headquarters on Wednesday while he was in town to observe the games and practices of two Turkish Airlines Euroleague teams, F.C. Barcelona Regal and Real Madrid, as they start the Spanish League playoff finals. Coach Min will also visit the teams as the series continues to Madrid later in the week.
Coach Min had previously been exposed to European basketball as an assistant on the Chinese National Team when its head coach was Jonas Kazlauskas, a former Euroleague champion who took CSKA Moscow to the title game in Istanbul last month. During the Final Four, China was also represented by a junior team that participated in the Nike International Junior Tournament for the second season in a row.
Coach Min guided the Beijing Ducks to one of the biggest upsets in Chinese basketball history this season. The Ducks won their first title by winning the best-of-seven finals by 4-1 over defending champion Guangdong, which had won seven of the previous eight crowns. Beijing is just the fourth team ever - along with Guangdong, Bayi Rockets and Shanghai Sharks - to win the title in the Chinese Basketball Association's 17-year history. It became the first team crowned champion despite entering the post-season without any previous playoff experience.
Coach Min, what are you learning from your trip to study European basketball?
"I want to learn about European basketball systems. It is very difficult for Chinese players, who play a one-on-one game. We want to learn how to play the European systems, play as a team, as a group, so that we can have more success."
You also worked with a European coach, current CSKA boss Jonas Kazlauskas, on the Chinese national team. What did that experience teach you?
"Mr. Jonas Kazlauskas is very experienced coach. He knows how to make his players work as a team. This time, when I was in Istanbul to watch the Euroleague Final Four, I was in there and could watch him during the games, how he reacted and changed things. Technically, the changes he made during the games were impressive. When I worked with him, I learned a lot, not only technically, but how to talk to the team and work with my players."
What have you seen before of European basketball that you wish to study more closely on your trip?
"The European basketball level is the top one in the world. European national teams always do well in Olympic Games and World Championships. I have lot of experience in American basketball, but this time I want to learn more about European basketball to do a better job in the future."
What are the similarities between European and Chinese basketball?
"The game systems – playing as a team, together. We don't have top players, but need to play team basketball. European basketball is famous for being team-oriented and this is what brought me here."
What is the biggest difference you see between European and Chinese basketball?
"There is a little bit of difference in game times. For instance, we play 12 minutes per quarter and here it is 10. The game here in Europe is more intense, there is more physical contact."
How much would fans in China like Euroleague basketball if they got a chance to see it more?
"I am pretty sure that all Chinese basketball fans would like the Euroleague. The main problem for us is broadcast times. If Chinese fans could see more games, all fans would like the Euroleague."
What did you think of the Final Four?
"It was very exciting, especially the final. All games were good because of the coaches, players and of course, the fans. We saw some fantastic games for the fans."