On 26 Nov. 2008, a touring party of 34 people comprising of the ACBA Veterans and Dragons Teams embarked on a basketball tour of China, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Over the next 18 days, the tour visited the bustling cities of Shanghai, Zhuhai, Macau, Hong Kong, Taipei, Hualien and Taroko Gorge.
The Veteran Team competed in the over-55 age group for the 24th World Chinese Basketball Invitational Tournament held in Shanghai. The team played 3 games in the preliminary rounds but was beaten narrowly each time – losing by one point to the Chinese Jiangsu Team, 3 points to the Zhejiang Team, and 7 points to the Taiwan Old Horse Team.
The Dragons participated in exhibition games against local University and club sides. Four games were played in Shanghai, with mixed results of 2 wins, 1 loss and a cancelled game due to a brawl. The brawl with the Shanghai Physical Education University Team arose from questionable refereeing by local Chinese officials – basically the local side was allowed to be overly physical against the Dragons resulting in retaliations from the Australians.
The second phase of the tour was in Zhuhai City in Guandong Province where both teams had 2 games each. The Dragons won both their matches against the Zhuhai Development Team and Zhuhai Combined Youth Team respectively. However, our unlucky Veterans again narrowly lost both their games. Both teams again had exhibition games in Macau. The Dragons lost to the Macau Youth Team by 8 points but for the first time, the Veteran Team won their game. We will like to extend our appreciation and thanks to the Macau Basketball Association for hosting and organising a lunch for our teams.
In Taiwan, we stayed 6 nights and toured Taipei, Hualien and Taroko Gorge. We all had a good time, enjoying all the good food and taking some time out to relax on tour. In between the rest and recreation the Dragons played three games, with one win and two losses whilst the Veterans achieved a draw and one loss.
On reflection of the tour, there are a few areas ACBA can improve in order to achieve better results on tour. One key lesson for the Dragons is not to underestimate younger and physically smaller teams in Asia as they often compensate brute strength with speed, sharp shooting and strong team play (you could call these programs semi-professional given their training regiment).
Another key lesson is to not allow the Dragons to celebrate too much in between games. As the local teams have shown, it is important for a team to have discipline and this is an area we will look to instil in the future touring teams.
All said, we are proud to say that 2008 for ACBA has been another successful and meaningful one, and that the basketball tour was certainly very enjoyable for all the touring members – bring on Penang!