BEIJING (FIBA Asia Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - A new era will begin next year in Lebanon for China's men as they compete at the FIBA Asia Championship.
They will go into the tournament after a disappointing 2012.
China lost all five of their games at the London Olympics, falling to Spain, Russia, Australia, Brazil and hosts Great Britain.
The tournament marked the end of the road for national team coach Bob Donewald.
His team had not been favored to win any of its games, anyway.
Still, there had been hope in the Far East that China might, under Donewald, spring a surprise or two.
He had guided them past the initial group stage at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and also to victory in the FIBA Asia Championship.
The Chinese were beaten decisively in their Olympic encounters, however.
They will now look for success under a new leader.
The bigger and more important challenge for a China side that is trying to fend off Iran and retain the top spot in the FIBA Asia Rankings is not finding his replacement, though.
China need to do something that is far more important, according to Donewald.
The Chinese need to be sure that youngsters in the country are able to play the game, and to do so in a competitive environment.
"The thing that I think holds it back is that there are not enough grassroots programs," Donewald said to FIBA.com.
"There is no high school competition at that age.
"So you have all these kids watching basketball.
"They're cut if they don't make the club team, and then they don't have any competitive environment to continue to grow."
In America, a player who is cut from the junior high school team can always find a recreation league side to play for and then try out for the school the next year.
"So just the sheer mathematics of it," Donewald said.
"Let's say one out of every 2,000,000 becomes a decent player.
"We're narrowing down the pool because they're not allowing all those kids at a decent age to play.
"You're either selected by a club or not.”
There is no grassroots competition.
"In America, you have the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union), the high schools," Donewald said.
"When I was in junior high school, we played great games.
"I have a 10-year-old nephew who plays three or four games a week.
"They (China) don't have that.
"They have some that make it through the club system, but that don't have that throughout the entire country.
"So I think it limits the ability to grow talent."
The issue of player development is important for all countries.
Some countries like Nigeria, another team at the Olympics, have the advantage of being able to select players from home or the United States, where many have their roots in Nigeria.
Those players have competed in high school and/or college basketball.
Donewald says there are certain characteristics, too, that give some players an advantage.
"In basketball, you're dealing a lot with foot speed and a lot with athleticism," he pointed out.
"So you are limited there (in China) just by the athlete, but so is Europe.
"But I think we (China) are certainly limited by the system in the schools, not the clubs, to give those kids a chance to play.
"I'm talking about go up north, go out east, go down south.
"What are the clubs, school systems where there are no CBA teams. What are those kids doing?
"There is no infrastructure. My nephew is 10 years old and is on two teams.
"He's either going to make it or not make it.
"But at least, he's being given a chance whereas I think there are a lot of kids in China I think that go to school and they're not on a team, they're not competing.”
Who is responsible?
"It's hard,” Donewald said.
“It's a government thing, not a CBA thing.
"I think it's something that government people need to set up and establish, if it's that important."
During his time in charge, Donewald said he had no complaints about the backing he received from basketball's governing body in China, the CBA, or the commitment shown by his players.