Five Foreign NBA Players To Watch These pros will spearhead their countries' efforts to dethrone the United States as Olympic champion

August 01, 2004

A) YAO MING, CHINA

The Houston Rockets' 7'6" center, an All-Star in both of his NBA
seasons since being taken No. 1 in the 2002 draft, was the MVP of
the 2003 Asian championships, averaging 22.6 points and 13.1
rebounds in helping China qualify for Athens. At the 2000
Olympics the then 20-year-old Yao averaged 10.5 points, 6.0
rebounds and 2.2 blocks as China went 2-4.

B) PAU GASOL, SPAIN

The 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year and Memphis Grizzlies star heads
to his first Olympics after leading Spain to second place at the
2003 European championships, during which he averaged a
tournament-high 25.8 points. The 7-foot, 240-pound Gasol will be
joined in the Spanish lineup by Utah Jazz point guard Raul
Lopez.

C) MANU GINOBILI, ARGENTINA

The San Antonio Spurs' swingman played on the Argentine team that
beat the U.S. 87-80 at the 2002 world championships, handing the
Americans their first loss in international competition since NBA
players became eligible. A member of the national team since
1998, Ginobili, 27, averaged 14.1 points in last summer's Olympic
qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico, in which Argentina finished
second to the U.S.

D) VLADIMIR RADMANOVIC, SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO

With All-Star forward Peja Stojakovic opting not to play in
Athens, the team will turn to the Seattle Sonics' forward for
scoring. The 6'10" Radmanovic, 23, was benched during the 2002
worlds after a dispute with his coach and didn't play in last
summer's European championships. But his blend of size, speed and
three-point shooting makes him a potential star.

E) DARIUS SONGAILA, LITHUANIA

The Sacramento Kings' forward averaged 8.0 points in helping his
country take the gold medal at last year's European
championships. The 6'9", 248-pound Songaila, 26, was a major
force in Lithuania's bronze medal finish in 2000, averaging 9.6
points and 4.8 rebounds. He totaled 28 points in two near-upsets
of the U.S. in Sydney. --Chris Mannix

COLOR PHOTO: ICON SMI (2) A COLOR PHOTO: ICON SMI (2) B COLOR PHOTO: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES C COLOR PHOTO: BONGARTS D COLOR PHOTO: RMANDO FRANCA/AP E

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