By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
Imagine a Husky basketball player shooting three points in a Shanghai arena, Yao Ming of legendary basketball fame and Jack Ma of Alibaba opening their mouths in disbelief, and a sea of Chinese fans leaping out of their seats going wild.
This could be a reality on Nov. 14 when the University of Washington Huskies basketball 2015-16 season opener against the University of Texas is held in China as part of the Pac-12 Conference.
This will be the first regular season game, professional or collegiate, to be played in China.
The game will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, which holds a capacity of 18,000.
About 50 people will be in the delegation, including UW President Ana Mari Cauce, Professor Shawn Wong, and former U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke.
“Basketball is very popular in China,” Wong said. “About 300 million people play basketball in China.”
During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were favorites.
The Huskies ranked as high as No. 13 during the last season, while Texas ranked No. 33.
The Huskies have 10 newcomers on the roster and eight of those were included when the group was named the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation (by Scout.com).
Also, the UW is the only school in the nation that has five freshmen that came in ranked in the top 100 nationally.
Pac-12 offered the opportunity to the UW because of the high Chinese student enrollment at the university, according to Ashley Walker, assistant director of athletic communications.
Coach Lorenzo Romar and 15 of the 16-member team have never visited China before. To prepare for the team’s trip to China, Cauce asked Wong to teach a class about China.
Alibaba, a sponsor, has invited the UW for a two-day visit to its group headquarters in Hangzhou for an educational seminar in Chinese business, highlighting social, cultural, and business trends in different parts of China.
In Shanghai, the university delegations of Huskies and Texas Longhorns will meet with Chinese government officials, engaging in different kinds of exchanges from faculty to student, research and online education. Sports legends such as Yao Ming and Bill Walton will be present to watch the game.
The Pac-12 China Game, an academic delegation from all 12 Pac-12 institutions, will participate in educational expos (in Shanghai, Nantong, and Suzhou) to introduce Pac-12 universities to Chinese students and families. (end)
Assunta Ng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.