Coach sets tempo as he seeks 2 titles in a row
The coach who led his team to the 2003 Nike All-Hong Kong Youth Basketball League title says he has an even stronger line-up of players for this year's competition and can sense a repeat success.
Ricky Chung Ka-kei steered a resilient Team Turbulence side to the under-19 championship, and this time he expects to do the same with Team Uptempo.
Each year the Nike league coaches are assigned a different team, and must select their players from the pool of talent that takes part in the annual four-month training scheme.
'I think I have got some of the best players this time,' said Chung, a full-time coach with the Hong Kong Basketball Association. 'They are all quite tall and there is a lot of skill. I've got the Most Valuable Player from last year's under-16 division - Law Yi-ting. He has real star quality. He works hard, can jump high, and has some special skills.'
Team Uptempo opened their 2004 campaign with a convincing 89-77 win over highly-regarded Team Air Hawk on Wednesday night at Southorn Stadium, Wan Chai.
'There is a lot of potential in the team. In our first game, Ng Ka-kei won a lot of rebounds, and Hung Kin-leung had a high shooting percentage. The bench players showed some nice skills, too. All round, we showed a lot of power and spirit,' Chung said.
'It's a different kind of team from last year when I had three key players who were very experienced. This time they are younger, but there is more all-round skill, and more potential.' This afternoon, Team Uptempo take on Chung's former squad, Team Turbulence. 'I'm confident we can win this one,' said Chung. 'I watched them in their first game against Team Flight on Wednesday. I think their defence looks weak. We should get a lot of rebounds.'
Chung already expects his side to reach the play-offs, which start on August 17. 'We are strong enough for the play-offs. Team Air Hawk also look capable of reaching the finals. They were a tough team. It wasn't an easy win. I want my players to push harder in each game. They can learn a lot in the first round,' he said.
Today's schedule: 4pm Team Turbulence v Team Uptempo; 5.30pm Lady Air Tuned v Lady Uptempo; 7pm Junior Air Zoom v Junior Air Force; 8.30pm Team Air Hawk v Team Flight.
For team lineups and the full tournament schedule, go to www.nike.com.hk