Mar 26 2014

Review: Cheap Basketballs From China

Cheap Basketballs From China

The official basketballs that are sold in the US and Europe are made in China so it could be possible to get such a ball without intermediate agents for a cheaper price, straight from the factories. So my quest for a good yet affordable basketball game ball shifted to China. I had earlier bought a Spalding NBA Zi/O and a Spalding Neverflat in the United States and a Wilson Solution in Europe. The Wilson Solution turned out to be far superior compared to the Spalding balls. The only problem with the Solution is the high price (60 €/$85) in Europe. Therefore I wanted to find out are the cheap basketballs sold in China any good?

 

I bought the following basketballs from AliExpress from different sellers. AliExpress is China’s equivalent of eBay. It acts as a marketplace, an umbrella if you will, for different individuals and companies to sell their products. It has great buyer’s protection, similar to PayPal, so it is a really safe place to buy stuff from. The problem is, like with eBay, that there is a huge amount of sellers and products. What products are good?

Molten_China

First thing I noticed was that there are mainly Molten basketballs available in AliExpress. Molten Corporation is a Japanese sports equipment manufacturer that was founded in 1958. Molten basketballs are best known for the two-colored basketballs used in FIBA international tournaments. The second thing I noticed was that there are models that I could not find on Molten USA or Molten Europe websites. At first I thought these models are pirate stuff but then I found Molten China website and it has many, many models that are specifically made for the Chinese market.

Molten GG7

Molten GL7

All balls came with a “toy pump”, a small and light air pump that you should not count on. What would you expect from a “free” gift pump anyway? Some of the balls also had a ball net that I guess is supposed to be used carrying the ball with. I had no use for the nets.

Official Size 7 Basketball Measurements

In order to evaluate these Chinese basketballs properly, I needed to know what are the measurements (weight and circumference) of an official size 7 (men’s) basketball? According to Wikipedia the official size 7 basketball that is used in men’s leagues and tournaments does not have one exact size and weight. The measurements must fit within specific tolerances. It must weigh between 20 and 22.9 oz (567-650 g) and the circumference must be between 29.5 and 30.7 inches (749-780 mm).

 

Molten GT7

Molten GT7

Quality Value
Price $25.55 (18,50 €) including worldwide shipping.
Weight 21.5 oz (609 g)
Circumference 29.53 in (750 mm)

I really like Wilson Solution’s softness so I looked for a Molten basketball in Molten China webpages that would be specifically listed as “soft”. The BGT7 is one of them (use Google Translate if needed) and is available in AliExpress. I bought it from Hightop Synthetic Leather Co that has even listed some ways to tell the difference between a genuine and a counterfeit Molten.


Molten_Copy_1Molten_Copy_2Molten_Copy_3Molten_Copy_4

I really love the softness of the GT7. I have only one complaint: the channels are “sharp”. It has really nice and deep channels to provide a good grip but they stick out and feel a bit sharp to the hand. Because of the channel sharpness, I am pretty convinced that it is not official Molten game ball. Otherwise it would be a perfect game ball. However for the price it gives great value and it is an excellent practice ball.

Molten GT7

Molten GT7

Molten GT7

Molten GT7

Molten GT7

Even if it has sharp channels, most of our team’s players approve the touch and feel of it. Nevertheless, the Wilson Solution is a better official game ball.

Quality Score
Appearance
Grip
Feel

 

Spalding (Generic)

Generic Chinese Spalding Basketball

Quality Value
Price $25.37 (18,50 €) including worldwide shipping.
Weight 19.86 oz (563 g)
Circumference 29.41 in (747 mm)

I wanted to buy one “generic” Spalding basketball as well. Generic meaning here that it does not have any specific model name – it is just “Spalding”. I really love the softness of it and it also bounces properly. I bought it from Lydis wholesale Co. What I do not like about it is its dark brown color (it is not shown clearly in the photos) opposed to the normal orange and the big bright NBA logo that makes it less official.

Generic Chinese Spalding Basketball

Generic Chinese Spalding Basketball

This ball feels lighter and smaller than regular size 7 basketballs. My perception is correct, it is in fact just a bit too light (4 g under the minimum weight) and small (2 mm under the minimum circumference).

Generic Chinese Spalding Basketball

The generic Spalding basketball is a great indoor/outdoor practice ball but the large and colorful NBA graphic renders it not suitable for official use. Also the surface was at first really sticky and had a great grip but after a while it became slippery. Plus it is too light and small to be an official size 7 basketball. The Wilson Solution is a better looking official game ball that has the softness and the grip required. All and all I would still consider the generic Spalding to be excellent value for money.

Quality Score
Appearance
Grip
Feel

 

Molten GG7

Molten GG7

Quality Value
Price $25.22 (18,50 €) including worldwide shipping.
Weight 21.48 oz (609 g)
Circumference 29.49 in (749 mm)

The Molten GG7 is listed on the Molten China website as having “high-grade soft PU synthetic leather”. That may be the case with a genuine Molten GG7 which this clearly is not – just take a look at the anti-piracy tips above. I bought it from New Hope Wholesale Co but there was a problem with the seller. The ball could not hold air pressure but it became slowly flat. It is understandable that sometimes the products are faulty. But when I requested a new ball the seller told me she would get back to me on a specific date. After that I could not get any reply from the seller. Therefore I do not recommend buying anything from New Hope Wholesale Co! As of today I still have not received a replacement ball that would hold air.

Molten GG7

Molten GG7

Molten GG7

This ball is just about perfect in circumference and weight. It feels just about right size. The circumference is in fact just the minimum for an official size 7 basketball and the weight is in the middle of the tolerance.

This ball feels really hard and it needs to be pumped really full before it bounces properly, leading it to be even harder than it otherwise would be. In other words: it is uncomfortably hard and it does not bounce properly. Additionally the surface becomes really slippery after a short period of time. So please beware of counterfeit Molten basketballs by taking a good look at the anti-piracy tips above before buying one. These copies are not good game balls. However the GG7 is a better practice ball than the GL7 below.

Molten GG7

Quality Score
Appearance
Grip
Feel

 

Molten GL7

Molten GL7

Quality Value
Price $25.55 (18,50 €) including worldwide shipping.
Weight 22.26 oz (631 g)
Circumference 29.72 in (755 mm)

The Molten GL7 is listed on the Molten China website as “the official game ball, approved by FIBA”. It is also said to be made of “the most high-grade natural cow leather”. That may be the case with a genuine Molten GL7 which this clearly is not – just take a look at the anti-piracy tips above. I bought it from New Hope Wholesale Co but there was a problem with the seller. The other Molten ball I bought from the seller, the Molten GG7, could not hold air pressure but it became slowly flat. It is understandable that sometimes the products are faulty. But when I requested a new ball the seller told me she would get back to me on a specific date. After that I could not get any reply from the seller. Therefore I do not recommend buying anything from New Hope Wholesale Co! As of today I still have not received a replacement ball that would hold air.

Molten GL7

Molten GL7

Molten GL7

This ball feels heavier and bigger than the other size 7 basketballs that I have. My perception is correct, but the difference is surprisingly small in circumference: just about 5 mm. The ball feels really heavy and it really is on the heavy side but still fits within the official size 7 tolerance. The surface should be genuine leather but I am certain that it is not. I have owned an official Spalding NBA leather game ball and it does not feel like this.

Molten GL7

This ball feels really hard and it needs to be pumped really full before it bounces properly, leading it to be even harder than it otherwise would be. In other words: it is uncomfortably hard and it does not bounce properly. Not good attributes at all. Also the surface shows wear and tear really quickly (picture below).

Molten GL7

Additionally the surface becomes really slippery after a short period of time. So please beware of counterfeit Molten basketballs by taking a good look at the anti-piracy tips above before buying one. If you think you will get an official FIBA leather game ball for about $25, think again: it is too good to be true. And it is not even good as a practice ball either so stay away from this one.

Quality Score
Appearance
Grip
Feel

 

Conclusion

It could be possible to find an official game ball straight from a Chinese factory for a considerably cheaper price than in the US or in Europe. There is such a huge variety of basketballs in AliExpress, literally hundreds of options to choose from, so the chances are slim to actually score a jackpot. Unfortunately based on my test none of the balls in this review are official game balls. I personally prefer soft basketballs that bounce well. Two balls of the four in this test are such balls, the Molten GT7 and the Spalding (Generic). These two basketballs are great practice balls and are excellent value for the money. However, when it comes down to the touch, feel and official look, there is not better game ball than the Wilson Solution, in my opinion.

27 Responses to “Review: Cheap Basketballs From China”

  • J. Brown Says:

    Hi, I found this article very interesting. I just purchased a GL7 myself, from a seller in Puerto Rico. To me the ball feels a little light and off. Everything checks out, but the texture is what makes me think it is a fake. I paid $70 for mine and it almost seems to good to be true. The surface almost has the texture of a rubber basketball and it also does not have the barcode on it. If you could help me determine if mine is legit, that would be great.

    • arinium Says:

      Hi J. Brown,

      The problem is, I have not seen nor held a genuine Molten GL7 in my hand. I will try to find one in the local sporting goods stores to compare the look and feel.

  • J. Brown Says:

    They aren’t sold like that here in the U.S. (or North Carolina to say the least). The wore in balls have a much more absorbing surface. All the sites I have read say that the surface and texture of the ball will be really slick. Mine was slick as well. They also talk about the pebbles on the ball being very defined. The downside to all of this is that there is no 100% way to tell what is real and what is not.
    Something I noticed with my ball was the print around the needle area. On Wilson and Spalding balls it is circular or in a little box surrounding the air valve. With my ball it literally looks like someone printed it out on Microsoft Word. Now, here is the catch; I was on an official site and the print looked like that from a distance (there are very few images of a front shot of this area), so I started feeling hopeful again about the ball. Then I noticed the barcode area that you were talking about, and the ball I purchased does not have that. It only have a 5 digit number.
    Regardless in the end I guess the old saying about if “you want quality, you have to pay quality money,” is still true. I checked out the AliExpress site and I saw the “cow hide” ball, thought it was interesting and may give it a try. Until then, I’m just going to see if I lucked up or screwed up with purchasing this ball.

  • ButtZilla Says:

    Man, very few people review basketballs in such details as you. Because of you I have decided to get a Wilson Solution Rather than a Molten.

    Thank you! 😛

  • KOppa Says:

    geesh what is the real thing my gosh, i have this gf7 that i’m not sure if i’m gonna buy because it has low price… dunno if it is genuine or not, here is the link http://www.olx.ph/index.php/view+classifieds/id/45002803/Molten+GF7+Basketball+with+free+pump+and+ball+pin?referralKeywords=gf7&event=Search+Ranking,Position,1-3,3#advertisementDetails it is made in china he sid

  • Luca Says:

    Molten are made in thailand plant. Made in china are fake.

  • Jack Says:

    Thanks for the interesting read. I literally had most of those sellers and ball options up on aliexpress before I found this. Very useful. Went with the GT7 in the end.

    Hope it holds air pressure ok. Did you have any further comment on this?

    Thanks

    • arinium Says:

      Hi Jack,

      Thanks for the comments. We tried to play one game with the GT7 but our players did not approve its sharp channels and therefore it has found its place in the warmups and shootarounds.

  • Ted Says:

    Thanks for you nice reviews on balls and I finally received GT7 yesterday satisfying its quality. BTW I just wonder why softness of GT7 and GL7 is so different? I guess it would be same ball with different letters after all if they are not genuine. I mean no reason to make them differently.

  • raz Says:

    maybe you will order chinese balls alos?
    i bought the marbury version. It finally cracked today. after 10-20 uses. not sure if its the cold

  • Michael Says:

    Hi,

    very good article. I am trying to find a genuine Molten BGG7 basketball in Switzerland; and it is really a big challenge. Not only the balls in internet can be fake, but also in the local shops. Some balls are not round, the others are too small, smaller than the official size7 of 749 mm (I always come with my measuring tape to the shop, calibrated).
    Molten does not help either. Official size of 749 to 780… well, I’ve seen this info on one of the molten pages. 749 looks correct, but 780??? 780 mm is clearly too big, is it for the oversized training ball? Official NBA size7 ball is actually 74.93 – 75.88 cm.

    I am really puzzled. Will order a ball in one of the internet shops. Would it be in Germany, I’d order directly by the DBB (German Basket-League), they have a webpage with the online shop. But here in Switzerland, I am afraid to get another chinese copy.

  • Michael Says:

    OK. Update.
    I actually ordered the ball in the DBB shop in Germany. That will cost me extra for the transportation and VAT, but let’s see what comes. If the good one comes, I’ll let you know.

    • arinium Says:

      Thanks Michael for the comments. Please let us know how it turned out to be. Which model did you end up buying, Molten GG?

      • Michael Says:

        Hi arinium,

        I will let you know in details ones it arrives. I’ve ordered Molten GG7.

        It is a kind of wired in Switzerland. We all know, that there are many fakes on the market, but nobody gives a shit about it… Even professional teams.

        Your blog is he only place where I actually found the correct description of the problem. Most of people do not care, if their basketball is fake or not, right size/weight or not etc.

      • Michael Says:

        Hi Arinium,

        so the ball has arrived. It is Molten BGG7 (which is composite leather, for indoor). I’ve ordered it in the DBB online shop, by the German Basketball League. One can find in the internet.

        So, the ball has perfect size (finally!), perfect weight and perfect feel:
        – 755 mm in circumference,
        – 580 g,
        – nice grip – needed about an hour to be broken in,
        – it came in a huge box, inflated!
        – cost in Germany 74,90 EUR.
        – It has FIBA and DBB logos, barcode, and the factory name(?) 05601.

        I’ve made a few photos for the reference:
        https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-Azu41jFVVgTkpzSEstQm9zUjA&usp=sharing

        Finally, I am fully satisfied with the ball, and can recommend it to everyone. But the ball is quite expensive.

        Best regards.

  • J. Brown Says:

    I purchased the GL7 over the summer. At first when it arrived I surely thought I had received a fake. It was hard, slick and very shiny. I emailed a couple of friends who happen to play in pro leagues in Europe and they told me it would take a while for the GL to “break in.” One person suggested to take it outside and dribble it on concrete to break the shiny coating off (I did it for 5 minutes, wouldn’t recommend it) to speed up the process.

    Guys here in America are very stuck on “tradition” when it comes to basketballs to play with. The preference balls are typically the Wilson Evolution, Wilson Solution, Spaulding TF-1000, The Rock and Nike Elite basketballs. To me the only basketball that holds up after 30 minutes of play is the Wilson Solution, because it absorbs moisture and the others bead it up, making the surface slick. It took 2 months of force to get guys to see the quality difference between the basketballs. Typically you will hear comments like: It is too hard, this ball is slick, it is worn out and this feels like a girls ball; when it comes to the GL7. I typically wash the ball off right before I use it that way it has a moist coating on it. Overall, I have been happy with the GL7 and would recommend it to other.

    GM7 World Cup edition
    I bought this ball as a gift to myself. It is made of synthetic material unlike the GL, but guys adapt to it a lot faster. To me this ball is just like a Wilson Evolution or Rock. As soon as I rolled it out and guys began shooting with it, it became a favorite (even over the GL), due to its familiar feeling of softness. You can get this ball now for less than $35 (Molten USA). It came inflated and ready to go.

    My last purchase will either be the GG or GF series and I will let you know how those feel.

    • arinium Says:

      Hi J. Brown,

      I have been playing basketball for 23 years and counting. I know how important the touch and feel of a ball is. As I have written in many of my reviews, my favorite balls are Wilson Solution and Spalding TF-1000, however the latter becomes a bit too slippery for my taste as it ages.

      Based on your analysis on Molten GM7 I am very interested in buying one for a review. Where did you buy it (and the GL7) from? Some local store on online?

      And please let us know how GG or GF feel like if you’ll end up buying them.

    • Michael Says:

      Good point.
      In my view, the Spalding I have for outdoor playing is the best one. It keeps going for more than 10 years as of now.

      I’ve changed more than 3 Molten since then, indoor and outdoor; but Spalding keeps forever.

      P.S. Do not mess up with the chinese copies – they cost 20$ on amazon/alibaba. They have no value. You only feel the difference when you touch them.

  • J. Brown Says:

    http://www.moltenusa.com/fiba/product/competition/bgm7-wc14m.html

    This is the site I purchased the GM7 from, So, I knew it was valid. The GL7 came from an online seller.

    • Michael Says:

      33$…
      OK, that is probably the real value of this ball..
      I kind of doubt the cost of 90 CHF (=90 USD) that is has in Switzerland.

      I would even pay 150 USD, when I knew that it is the genuine one.

  • Winston Says:

    I have GG7,GM7 and Adidas All Court. GG7 lasts longer than outdoor ball like GM7 and Adidas All Court. Adidas ball becomes hard and heavy. Now i am wanted to try Molten GP76 or GO7. I always play outdoor on concrete court. In your opinion, which ball that last longer outdoor?

    • arinium Says:

      Hi Winston,

      Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately I have no experience of Molten GP76 or GO7 so I cannot help.

      -Ari

      • Winston Churchil Says:

        Bought GP76..feels like GG7 but more curve on the lining hence more grip..havent try it yet on outdoor cout..Happy New Year

  • MUHAMMD AL SALEM Says:

    Dear Sir or Madame

    We are VIVA SPORT company from Syria

    We would like to import your MOLTEN SPORTS

    please provide us with your catalogues and price lists and we are looking forward to deal with you

    best regards

    MUHAMMD AL SALEM

    Damascus, Syria

    Mazeh highway

    TEL 00963-991988336

  • stan Says:

    Is it true that if the FIBA and GG7 logo are sticker, its original and if the logo are engrave, its fake.

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