NBA, Mengniu set China b-ball reality show

4:45 AM PST 04/03/2009 by Jonathan Landreth, AP

Winner gets tryout with development league

BEIJING -- The NBA, leading Chinese dairy Mengniu and a leading broadcaster from China's Shandong province are launching the U.S. sports league's first basketball reality TV show in China.

"Mengniu NBA Basketball Disciple" will follow a three-month basketball contest that began filming public tryouts in 64 cities throughout China on Friday, the league said in a statement.

The league's announcement came a day after China Central TV revealed that it would launch a reality TV show around basketball cheerleading in May with the NBA and Tsingtao Brewery.

In the Mengniu NBA show's first round, Chinese hoopsters at least 18 years old will compete to show their skills at dribbling, shooting and completing lay-ups, earning points over four rounds, the NBA said.

Following the last round--a final All-Star Game pitting the best eight players from south China versus the best eight from the north--the player with the most cumulative points will be crowned the most valuable player and win an all-expenses-paid trip to the United States for a tryout with a team from the NBA Development League.

"We hope our fans in China are as excited as we are because the NBA’s first-ever reality show in China will give talented Chinese amateur players the opportunity to play for a D-League tryout,” Tim Chen, CEO of NBA China said.

Shandong TV Satellite Channel will air a 50-minute episode of the show each Friday beginning May 22 through August 21 in the 9:30 PM local time slot. A final 90-minute awards ceremony show will air live on August 28 and feature Chinese celebrities as presenters and performers.

The NBA, which opened its Hong Kong office in 1992 and currently employs more than 100 people in four offices in greater China, claims that 300 million people play basketball in China.
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