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US, Chinese Athletes Exchange Souvenirs, Not Blows


Basketball players from Georgetown University in Washington DC and China's Bayi team trade punches during their friendly game at the National Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium in Beijing, August 18, 2011

Basketball players from Georgetown University in Washington DC and China's Bayi team trade punches during their friendly game at the National Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium in Beijing, August 18, 2011

Members of a Chinese basketball club and a U.S. university team cleared up some of their differences Friday, a day after they fought on a basketball court in Beijing.

Players for China's Bayi Rockets team exchanged handshakes with Georgetown University's coach and two of his players at Beijing airport Friday, and a statement from the school said it was a "very cordial and friendly" meeting. It said Georgetown coach John Thompson III and Rockets coach Adejiang shook hands and expressed interest in maintaining ties.

Georgetown's head coach, John Thompson III, and his counterpart from the Rockets, Adejiang, are quoted as expressing interest in maintaining sporting ties in the future. Georgetown said Thompson proposed bringing young Chinese players to a summer camp next year at the university in the U.S. capital.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said the teams exchanged souvenirs Friday, and he told reporters China was "pleased about this outcome."

The Rockets and the Georgetown Hoyas are scheduled to play each other again on Sunday in Shanghai.

The American team has been on a good-will tour of China for the past week, but the game with the Rockets Thursday night turned violent.

With about less than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter of the game, with the score tied, players from both sides collided and began scuffling while chasing a loose ball. The clash escalated quickly to a brawl that involved almost all players on the court and some spectators.

Video of the incident that quickly traveled around the world drew sharp reactions from sports fans in both countries. Georgetown pulled its players off the court about two minutes after the fight began, retreating to the safety of the arena's locker room, since metal folding chairs were being thrown across the court.

A reporter from The Washington Post newspaper at the game said Chinese spectators threw water bottles at the American players. The reporter said he saw at least one Chinese spectator hurling a chair at the U.S. athletes.

A photograph from the China Daily showed three uniformed Chinese players and a fourth individual kicking a Georgetown player on the floor as he tried to stand up to leave the court.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in Beijing Thursday discussing economic relations between Beijing and Washington, but he was not at Thursday's game. Biden had watched another an earlier basketball game Wednesday between Georgetown and a different Chinese club team.

Georgetown University posted a statement on the Internet, that the Hoyas' coach issued shortly after the fight broke out, describing the game simply as "a contest between two great teams" played at a "very competitive" level.

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