MMAC: MMAC China Council, Milwaukee Bucks Partner to Bring Professional Chinese Basketball Team to Milwaukee for Exhibition, Practices

July 29, 2005
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
Julie Granger (414) 287-4131
John Steinmiller (414) 227-0544
Evan Zeppos (414) 276-6237

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“Business Basketball Exchange” will Showcase Milwaukee to Millions in Expanding
Chinese Market and Help Open More Doors in China
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Beijing Ducks’ August 2-14 Trip will be First U.S. Visit for a Professional Chinese Team

MILWAUKEE, WI – The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) China Council and the Milwaukee Bucks today announced the “MMAC China Council Bucks – Ducks Business Basketball Exchange,” which will host a professional Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) team during a 12-day trip to Milwaukee August 2 – 14.

“While the main focus of the Beijing Ducks trip to Milwaukee will be on basketball, this business and basketball exchange will also help open more doors for doing business between Milwaukee and China,” said Tim Sheehy, president of the MMAC. “We are excited about working with the Milwaukee Bucks to bring the Beijing Ducks to Milwaukee, and we know that this will prove to be a great business opportunity to showcase Milwaukee to China and the rest of the world.”

“This 12-day tour will put Milwaukee in front of a national and international audience of millions of basketball fans because of the Bucks – Ducks partnership,” said Robert Kraft, president of Openfirst, LLC and co-chair of the MMAC China Council. “China is Wisconsin’s fourth largest trading partner, and this trip will give Milwaukee the chance to demonstrate all that we have to offer.”

The Beijing Ducks basketball tour is the first time a professional Chinese basketball team has traveled to the U.S. The team will receive instruction from top-level college coaches. Larry Harris, general manager for the Milwaukee Bucks, said that the Beijing Ducks will play two exhibition games, one in Milwaukee at the Bradley Center and one in Madison at the Kohl Center, and will work out at the Bucks’ facilities at the Cousins and Bradley centers. Ducks coaches will also learn new drills and techniques and Ducks trainers will learn from area trainers.
This is not the first time Milwaukee has hosted an international basketball team. In 1987, the Soviet National Team took part in the first McDonald’s Open held in Milwaukee. This tournament was the first time any NBA team hosted an international team.

In addition to basketball activities, the Beijing Ducks will also visit various Milwaukee and Madison businesses and attractions and meet with community and business leaders and Chinese community leaders. The team will also take a one-day sightseeing trip to Chicago.

“Basketball and the NBA are continuing to become much more international, and we are pleased that the first time a CBA team is coming to the United States it will be visiting Milwaukee and using the Milwaukee Bucks’ home court and training facilities,” said Harris. “The Chinese have a lot of enthusiasm and passion for basketball, and we believe this trip will help the Chinese people to become even more familiar with Milwaukee, its businesses and the city.”

The Beijing Ducks will play an exhibition game against the MIDWEST USA team of college stars and aspiring professionals at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at the Bradley Center. Former Marquette All-American Bo Ellis will assist with coaching the MIDWEST USA team. The Beijing Ducks will also play a second exhibition game at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 11, in Madison at the Kohl Center. Bo Ryan, UW-Madison men’s basketball coach, will coach the opposing team. Both games are free and open to the public.

According to Harris, the NBA is very popular in China with tens of millions of Chinese watching the NBA because of Yao Ming, who played in the CBA before joining the Houston Rockets in 2002. In recent years, basketball has become China’s second most popular sport after soccer, and the NBA has been working to increase its exposure in China. The NBA’s latest effort included a Basketball Without Borders program in China, where young players from China and more than a dozen other Asian countries attended a camp with NBA players and coaches.

The Beijing Ducks are owned by the Shougang Corporation – China’s fourth largest steelmaker – and are one of 14 teams in the CBA, founded in 1995. The Beijing Ducks recently played in the inaugural Singapore Cup, a professional Asian club basketball tournament. That appearance marked the first time a CBA team played competitive basketball outside of China. The Beijing Ducks are known throughout the league for their tenacious defense and high shooting percentages. Three of the team’s most widely recognized current and former players are Mengke Bateer, Jiao Jian and Min Lu Lei – the Ducks current head coach. Bateer recently practiced and played with the Chicago Bulls in the Reebok Summer Classic in Las Vegas. Bateer will be joining the Ducks in Milwaukee.

“As cities around the country and world compete for growth opportunities in the global economy, the MMAC China Council Bucks – Ducks Business Basketball Exchange is a perfect opportunity for the Milwaukee region to grow in the China market,” said Ulice Payne, Jr., president of Addison-Clifton, LLC, which has an office in Shanghai. Payne is co-chair of the MMAC China Council.

The Beijing Ducks trip is being underwritten through private funds from Openfirst, LLC; Addison-Clifton, LLC; Associated Bank; Cannon & Dunphy; Foley & Lardner; Grace Matthews; Harley-Davidson; Heartland Funds; Novo 1; Pacific Strategies & Assessments; Prairie Capital; PS Capital Partners; QuadGraphics; Robertson Ryan & Associates; and The Polacheck Company.
The MMAC’s China Business Council provides guidance to MMAC member companies currently doing business or exploring business relationships in China. The group made a preliminary trip to China in May 2004 to set the foundation for expanded business relationships. That groundwork will be expanded with another China Council trade mission in September, followed by an official delegation led by Mayor Tom Barrett to Beijing, Ningbo and Shanghai in October.

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Media interested in covering the MMAC China Council Bucks – Ducks Business Basketball Exchange please contact Julie Granger (414) 287-4131, [email protected]; John Steinmiller (414) 227-0544, [email protected]; Dan Smyczek (414) 294-4886, [email protected]; Matt Wessel (414) 294-4887, [email protected]; or Evan Zeppos (414) 276-6237, [email protected] for schedule information, credentials and interview and photo opportunities.