I went to my first basketball practice before this big tournament begins and had quite the eye-opening experience – I found out that there really are good basketball players here in China! I mean, I never had the false impression that I was some basketball wizard, but up until this point the competition I have played against here has not been fierce.
I have been put in my place, though. After three of my shots were blocked in the first 20 minutes of practice I decided that passing the ball around might be a better idea. Thankfully I didn’t come into this practice with any sort of cocky attitude, so I think my fellow players are starting to warm up to me and appreciate my work ethic even if my skill level isn’t what they expected from an American.
Two things I’ve noticed so far that I wanted to expound upon:
1) All of the gyms that we will practice in and play in are company gyms. Actually, it’s not uncommon in this area for a company to build a nice workout facility on its premises that houses a basketball court, ping pong tables, badminton courts, a weight room, and showers. If you’re an employee (or a friend of an employee) you are able to use all of this for free, otherwise you’re either stuck paying for a health club or playing on outdoor courts.
2) I am so very happy that none of these guys are trying to get an English lesson out of me! I’m not sure whether it’s because we’re all the same age or because we’re just there to play basketball, but this is the first set of people I’ve spent an extended amount of time with who aren’t trying to practice their English with me. This break from teaching is nice but it has also put pressure on me to only use my Chinese, something I’m both excited and nervous to do.
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