June 1, 2006
Sunday, May 28, 2006 5:00 PM: Tao Yuen
We just got back to the hotel, which by the way has some amazing amenities. We spent about three hours practicing on the floor today. We got a couple of good play sets in and put up some shots, but it was mostly just to get people tuned in, and ready to play for our opener tomorrow. Were being treated extremely well by all the students and school officials, and it has been especially nice for me to be able to shake their hand and thank them in their native language for all that they have done for us and will continue to do throughout the week.
Monday, May 29, 2006 11:00 PM: Tao Yuen
Its been a long an eventful day. We got up early in the morning for our 10 o'clock tip off against the host Kainan University. Fans started filling up stands on both sides of the arena fairly quickly as we began to warm up. Everything moved pretty quickly after the opening ceremonies and we found ourselves playing a respectable basketball team in Kainan. The game presentation was exciting, with music blasting on the PA system on both ends of the floor, and a packed arena of Taiwanese fans armed with thundersticks. We took an early 10-0 lead, and when the host team made their first free throw the cheers were deafening. Halfway through the second quarter, I got the call down the bench and checked in to the game. The announcer used my Chinese name and announced that I was a local kid, so I subbed in to a thundering standing ovation.
Later tonight, we caught some highlights of our game on ESPN Sports Center, which included an interview clip where I talked about the excitement in the building and the great fans that came out. The people here have a great sense of pride for Taiwanese people and they definitely gave me something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. We all had a chance to thank the fans and the school officials in a cultural exchange conference after the game, so that was good. Overall, I thought we played a decent game, but we could use some sharpening, and we definitely have to start shooting better. But we got a good win, and it has been an amazing experience for me so far.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Our first day in Taiwan proved to be a great experience. The team had a 10 o'clock departure time so most players planned on heading to breakfast a little before 9. Of course, many players experienced jet lag and woke up much earlier. Bill was wide awake at 4:30 am. The breakfast here at our five-star hotel is absolutely great. I sampled a wide variety of fruits and enjoyed drinking many little yogurt fruit drinks. After breakfast we headed out to practice at Kainan University. Driving through the streets in the early morning was great. We saw schools, stores, and even street stands that had all types of meat hanging from it.
When we got to Kainan the first noticeable sight is the massive main building that looks similar to an old Chinese palace. When we walked into the gym, all the workers setting up the stands immediately stopped and started staring at us like we were stars. We held practice for about 2 hours and had an opportunity to just hang out afterwards. Some players shot around, some players (Billy) signed autographs and took pictures, and others ate lunch. Our lunch was a type of take out box that included beef, rice, fish, and octopus. We had some good laughs and headed back to the hotel for showers.
When we got back to the hotel, Krull, Brandon, Barnett, Alan, Mike, and I headed down to the 4th floor to enjoy the spa. We hung out in the hot tub and the pool for a while and then most prepared to go out for the night. Billy and Dou decided to fall asleep at about 5 pm while a few guys took a 40 minute cab ride into Taipei. Krull, Brandon, Evans, Coach Eslinger, and I walked the streets around our hotel. The best part of the night was our time in a little cafe; since we had received practically the same thing for dinner that we had for lunch, a few of us were craving a little more food. We ordered some delicious cake and Coach and I ordered some Korean Citron Iced Tea. It was a great time with lots of laughs and friendly conversation with the workers. On our way home, we stopped by a fruit market to look around. We had a difficult time communicating with the workers but it was fun nonetheless. I bought a popsicle at a store across from our hotel on the way home and it was terrible. It had beans and other things that I had not idea what they were in it. When we got back to the hotel at 8:30, I headed to my room and crawled into bed satisfied from an awesome first day.