MANUTE Bol, the tallest player in the NBA, has joined the Team America touring side to play China's national team in Hongkong next month. Bol's signing is a major coup for event organisers as the spindly, seven-foot seven-inch Sudanese centre is currently on the Philadelphia 76ers roster. Valued for his defensive prowess Bol, almost painfully thin and weighing 225 lbs, looks so striking he is guaranteed to turn heads whenever he appears in public. A giant among giants in the NBA, his prime asset is his blocking ability. He even towers over the game's more celebrated big men such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson - by around six inches. Team America president Jerry Barisano says Bol is ''signed, sealed and delivered'' and will play all nine tour matches between Team America and the Chinese, including the opening three-match series in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou for the Marlboro-USA Challenge Cup. The Hongkong match, at the Coliseum on June 26, is the final leg after games in Macau, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. As well as acquiring Bol, Barisano has given his squad a drastic overhaul, introducing seven young professionals in place of the original posse of ex-NBA stalwarts who comprised the bulk of Team America. China, eight-time Asian champions and three-time Asian Games champions, had a disappointing Olympics last year, losing all five group matches. But Barisano, watching them in the East Asian Games in Shanghai in recent days, says: ''I underestimated the strengths of China. ''This is a much better team than the one we faced in 1991. When I saw them in Shanghai I realised there were serious gaps in my original squad and wholesale changes were needed. ''They have a good centre in Shan Tao, so I needed someone to clog up the middle - Manute. And they are very fast on their feet so I decided to bring in younger, fresher legs. ''Manute is a great blocker, very difficult to shoot past. I know he's not a great scoring machine but it's a fact that good defence creates good offence. ''I decided that if I had to get rid of half the team to get Manute, I would.'' The extra cost of signing Bol also forced Barisano's hand in cutting back on his older established stars and replacing them with hungrier up-and-coming talent. Bol, an eight-year NBA regular, hails from the Dinka tribe of southern Sudan. He was spotted by an American coach at a basketball clinic in Khartoum in 1983. After attending Bridgeport University in Connecticut, Bol was drafted by the Washington Bullets in 1985. From there he moved on to the Golden State Warriors and, in 1990, joined the 76ers. Three members of the original Team America squad are being retained. George Gervin, 41, the 12-year NBA veteran who spent most of his career with the San Antonio Spurs and was voted MVP of the 1980 NBA All Star game, is still player-coach. The others are Gervin's brother Derek, 29, formerly of the New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers, and one-time Sacramento Kings player Wayne Casey. Among the new blood is guard Ricky Wilson, who spent some time on the Nets' books.