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Monday, March 26, 2001
Mavs' Wang might play against Hawks

BEIJING – Chinese basketball star Wang Zhizhi's first game for the Dallas Mavericks could be against the Atlanta Hawks on April 5, China's official Xinhua News Agency on Monday quoted a team coach as saying.

But the 7-foot-1 center will also need time to adjust to his new team's playing style and his first appearances will likely be short, Xinhua quoted Mavericks assistant coach Donnie Nelson as saying.

Wang will be the first Asian to play in the NBA. The 23-year-old star of the Chinese military-run Bayi Rockets was picked by Dallas in the 1999 draft. But he wasn't able to gain release until after the Chinese league championships earlier this month, in which he led the Rockets to a sixth straight title.

Nelson said foreign players usually require about two years to adjust to the NBA's "thinking and philosophy."

While competition for playing time will likely limit his appearances, Wang has the build, youth, skills and talent to enjoy a "glorious future" in the NBA, Nelson was quoted saying.

Whether he plays for one minute or not at all, Wang is a Mavericks player and a "history maker," Xinhua quoted Nelson saying.

China has granted Wang permission to play with the Mavericks for the rest of the current NBA season. Whether he stays in the United States or returns to China after that is still to be negotiated.

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