By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
It is approximately 7,738 miles between Sydney, Australia and Seattle – a long way for a basketball game.
But a group of basketball players from the Australian Chinese Basketball Association (ACBA) made the trip. In fact, it was a stop for the ACBA “Kane Toads” and “Warriors,” who played in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and were going to play in Vancouver, B.C. after their stop in Seattle.
The two Australian teams were a part of the “International Asian Basketball Showcase,” which took place at the gym at Tyee Middle School in Bellevue, Wash. on Saturday, Nov. 29th. It was an exhibition of a local Chinese Basketball Association team and the teams from Sydney.
The event was the idea of brothers Austin and Royce Yuen. Austin Yuen, a former Seattle Pacific University collegiate player, participates in a local Chinese basketball league where his team has won multiple local tournaments and competes nationally against other Chinese teams. Through connections, Yuen was put in contact with the ACBA Kane Toads, a 60 and over basketball team that was playing in the Chinese World Tournament in Las Vegas in November. They were looking for other teams to play in exhibitions. In addition, Leon Teh, the group’s manager, was bringing along a young team with ages ranging from 17 to 28.
“If there’s Asian basketball in Seattle, you’re it,” Yuen retold of how the game came about. With only a month’s advance notice, Yuen and his brother wanted to make the game more of a community event. “It was a busy first couple weeks,” said Yuen. He partnered with advertising group T.D. Wang, t-shirt maker Spread Love, and Watts Basketball (owned by local basketball legend Donald Watts) as sponsors.
They also were able to obtain halftime entertainment with the group “The Good Foot” dance crew performing.
According to Teh, the ACBA is the largest group in Australia with 70 teams that play year round. The league is comprised of a mixture of ethnic Chinese and Australians. The Asian population in Sydney is over 800,000 people. The contingent of 28 left Australia on Nov. 20th and will be home on Dec. 5th, according to Teh.
In addition to the main event pitting the ABCA Warriors against the local Seattle team, there was a “senior” game played with elder members (50 years and over) of ACBA playing against a “senior” team from Seattle. There was also a youth basketball clinic hosted by the Seattle Asian Sports Club with kids having the opportunity to run through basketball drills to improve on their skills.
The showcase was a glimpse of the basketball culture for these players that play for the love of the game.
Yuen and his fellow teammates travel to tournaments to test themselves against national competition. East Coast Asian Basketball is pretty big according to Yuen, as cities like Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, and Toronto have strong Asian basketball communities. Yuen and his friends do not mind traveling for tournaments as most see it as a “vacation.” Most of the time, they pay for airfare and hotels when they go to tournaments.
Similarly, the ABCA rely on league fees and players paying out of pocket for their trips to the United States. Teh stated that he makes annual basketball trips to the States bringing different teams to give them experience.
In the end, both Seattle teams (the young and old) defeated the teams from ABCA. However, all that participated had a great time playing a game for the love of it. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.