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Trump asked Chinese president to release United States basketball players

14 November 2017

"What they did was unfortunate", Trump told reporters earlier in Manila.

The UCLA team had been in China for a game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai on Saturday, which UCLA won 63-60. Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry, said the case had been reported to United States authorities, saying, "China is handling this case in accordance with the law, and will guarantee the rights in accordance with the law, for those involved in this case".

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Citing a source with firsthand knowledge of the investigation, sports channel ESPN last week reported the players could be Hangzhou for "a week or two" while the situation is resolved. The team was in Hangzhou to play its season opener in Shanghai, and their trip coincided with Mr. Trump's state visit to Beijing. News also broke that Chinese authorities reported having surveillance video of the trio stealing from several other stores that same day. The teams had traveled to Hangzhou earlier in the week to visit the headquarters of the game's sponsor, Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The players were also not permitted to fly home with the team. We've had a chance to apologize for the unwelcome attention it has brought. However, the fact that the charges have been reduced means that the players and their families have cooperated with authorities, which may include actions such as admittance to wrongdoing and providing compensation for the stolen items.

Three UCLA players are finally on their way back home after being held in China following allegations of shoplifting, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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The whole incident has since overshadowed the Ball family's entry into the Chinese market, as LiAngelo was supposed to accompany outspoken celebrity father LaVar during the store openings of family startup Big Baller Brand. As he was leaving the hotel, LaVar Ball downplayed LiAngelo's arrest, telling ESPN: "He'll be fine".

Asked if he was anxious about LiAngelo, LaVar said, "He'll be fine. It ain't that big of a deal".

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Trump asked Chinese president to release United States basketball players