Hong Kong to face China in 2019 Basketball World Cup qualifying after overcoming Macau in East Asia Championship
The heated rivals meet in November as part of group A, which also features South Korea and Australia
The heated sporting rivalry between Hong Kong and China will extend to basketball after the city successfully made it through to the 2019 World Cup qualification.
The two teams are due to meet in group A of the qualifiers after the draw was made in May, provided Hong Kong first come through the East Asia Championship which is in progress in Japan.
Following a 96-81 win over minnows Macau, Hong Kong finished in fifth ahead of the former Portuguese enclave to book a berth in the World Cup qualifiers, with the top five in the six-team competition progressing
Hong Kong will now travel to China in November for the first match of group A, which also features South Korea and Australia on a home-and-away basis.
With the top three teams advancing to the next round of the qualifiers, it looks unlikely Hong Kong will make it.
“The three other sides are all regional powers and it would be a tough mission for our boys,” said Basketball Association senior sports executive Sally Chan Chau-ping.
“China are the hosts of the 2019 World Cup and have been guaranteed a place in the tournament regardless of their ranking in the qualifiers but they will certainly take every match as part of their preparation.”
After playing in the mainland for the opening match on November 23, Hong Kong will take on New Zealand at home three days later.
The qualifiers then resume in 2018, with Hong Kong travelling to South Korea on February 23 before the big match against China is held on home soil three days later. The qualification progress runs until July.
The rivalry between Hong Kong and China has always caught the attention of the public, from the soccer World Cup qualifiers in 2015 to the AFC Champions League match between Eastern and Guangzhou Evergrande in April.
While Hong Kong fans kept booing China’s national anthem before international matches, the club competition also witnessed antagonism.
A group of visiting Guangzhou fans displayed a banner during their 6-0 win over Hong Kong champions Eastern at Mong Kok Stadium, saying “Annihilate British Dogs, Eradicate Hong Kong Poison” while the home fans responded by waving their former British colonial flag. Both Guangzhou and Eastern were fined by the governing body.
The victory over Macau also put Hong Kong through to the 2017 Asia Cup main draw, which takes place in Lebanon in August.
Hong Kong will meet Japan, Taiwan and Australia in group D, with the top team from all four groups reaching the last eight, along with four other best teams from the play-offs.