So far, Wei Quanjia, the 7-foot-2 center for the junior men's AAU team of the People's Republic of China, hasn't had a very pleasant visit to the United States.
He got sick on the flight from China, sick on the bus ride to the hotel and sick of American food. To make matters worse, he and 6-9 Deng Guoyou have sore knees from riding in cramped autos and buses.
They'll risk more discomfort when they and their teammates -- all 19 and under -- fly to Washington to play Team D.C. Friday night at Smith Center. The game will be the sixth of a nine-game, 16-day tour, and, going into last night's game against Detroit, they were 2-2.
Wei, hoping to play for the Chinese Olympic team in 1988, is impressed with his U.S. counterparts.
"The ability and overall technical skills of the Americans is very good," he said through an interpreter. "And they are so strong. They play so good inside and are very fast. I'm gradually improving (each game), but my knees are painful."
Wei (averaging 10 points, six rebounds) and 6-3 teammate Wang Fei (25 points), who is unquestionable the team's best player, agreed strength is the biggest difference between the Chinese and the Americans.
"We aren't that strong, so we have to put emphasis on the skills," Wang said through an interpreter. "The Americans have both strength and skill. We were very tired our first two games (and lost). The trip took 21 hours; we had a 12-hour time difference and only had a few weeks practice. We were not very good as a team our first games. The last two, we weren't as tired.
"But we come from all over the provinces in China and have to adjust our styles to play as a team. We are just starting to do that."
Wei and Wang said they wouldn't mind playing collegiate basketball in this country, but the Olympics is their main goal.
"The standard of college basketball is so high here, it would be hard (making a team)," Wang said. "I am glad to be here because of what we can learn. We can gain a lot of experience playing here."
Interpreter Song Luzeng said the players have benefited by watching films of U.S. basketball games and attending the lectures of touring college coaches. Both players said they like the run-and-gun play in the NBA, which isn't surprising because the Chinese are accustomed to that style. International rules have a 30-second clock and officials don't have to touch the ball after turnovers. Play also is much more physical.
The coach of Team D.C., Stan Anderson, admits the game will be faster than his players are used to. Top players for Team D.C. include Sherman Douglas of Spingarn High School, Earl Moore of Cardozo and David Butler and Tim Anderson of Coolidge.