Winters, Brinkman lead Chinese team to finals

 BEIJING – National team members Fred Winters of Victoria and Steve Brinkman of Bowmanville, Ont., the first foreigners to play professional volleyball in China, have helped their pro team BAIC to the Chinese league finals.

BAIC defeated Henan in two straight matches 3-0 and 3-1 in sets, to advance.  They now face Bayi for the title with match one of the best of three January 29 in Beijing. Games two and three are scheduled for Suzhou on February 2 and, if necessary, February 3.

We haven't been able to beat Bayi this year so it will be tough,” said Winters, Canada’s national team captain.  “The key is the first game at home.”

Winters added that Shanghai didn’t make the final for the first time in more than 10 years after falling to Bayi in the semifinals.

For BAIC Motors, the decision to recruit overseas was done for one reason only: to dethrone Shanghai.

“The message was made very clear to us that we are vying for the championship,” said Winters, earlier this season.  “It’s a lot of pressure but the club has slowly brought us along so there is no feeling of panic.  They’ve really helped us adapt to Chinese life.”