BWB Asia

FIBA - First BWB Asia tips off

BEIJING (Basketball Without Borders Asia) - More than 50 of Asia's best young basketball players hit the courts at Beijing's Olympic Training Facility on Friday at the beginning of the Basketball without Borders Asia clinic.

San Antonio Spurs guard and French superstar Tony Parker, New Orleans Hornets forward Bostjan Nachbar, and Philadelphia 76ers forward Kyle Korver and center Samuel Dalembert led the campers through a series of drills to sharpen the skills. "The coaching is really good," Jin Soo Kim, a six-foot-eight-inch, 16-year-old forward from South Korea said. "I'm really excited about the program."

At the beginning of the clinic native son and Rockets center Yao Ming encouraged the players to do their best. "It's a great opportunity for these younger athletes," he said.

Yao also focused on using Basketball without Borders to realize the NBA's goals of giving back to the community. "Working on public interest program can give us more experience and help us better understand society," he said. "In Chinese we have a saying: if you do good things, you'll get good rewards."

One of several programs that the players and NBA coaches and staff will work on will be an HIV/AIDS Awareness Day hosted with Tsinghua University, one of China's top schools.
"There's prejudice against people suffering from AIDS not just in China but worldwide," Yao said. "But while AIDS is an enemy, people who have contracted AIDS are our friends."
Another program on the sidelines of the clinic was a Special Olympics basketball training held at the Olympic training facility on Friday afternoon. The NBA coaches and players helped 80 Special Olympics athletes aged 8-14 and trainers to improve their skills.

Nachbar led the young athletes in a dribbling drill while Yao helped them hone their shooting skills.

"This is great," 10-year-old Li Zhihao said. "I love basketball, the Rockets are my favorite team, and it's incredible to see these players.

After the young stars finished training they went head-to-head in a short game that ended in an 8-8 tie - and earned praise from the NBA/FIBA players. When one young defender blocked a shot Yao turned to Dalembert and asked, "Did you teach him to do that?"

"No," Dalembert replied. "He learned it on his own. These guys are good man."

After the game ended it was back to drilling for the Asian all-star campers. Nineteen-year-old Malaysian guard Yong Joon Fai took a breather to say that Malaysia has never had a player in the NBA and he hopes to become the first. The best thing about the camp, he said, "is the opportunity to meet the NBA/FIBA players and learn from them," something he and the other campers will be able to do through the weekend.

Yao, on the other hand, is looking forward to seeing how good the batch of younger players is.