HK basketball team upbeat before opener
Battle will commence this morning as Hong Kong girls' basketball team take on Beijing, one of the favourites in the All China Secondary Schools Students' Games in Inner Mongolia.
Hong Kong girls' team of 12 players includes five students from Heep Yunn School, in Kowloon - the dominant force in inter-schools competitions and tournaments. One of them is the team's captain, Form Five student Sze Ping-ping.
'It is good to play with players from other Hong Kong schools as they have brought extra skills and abilities,' Ping-ping says. 'For example, they are better at attacking moves, such as pick and roll. I am sure this can help our team to improve in the competition.'
Ping-ping has missed a number of competitions in the past few months after dislocating her right shoulder. But she played in last week's Hong Kong Basketball Inter-School Marathon 2011 without suffering any recurrence of the injury.
'I felt good in the competition. I am happy, too, as my school team won the title. But I'm still regaining fitness and not at my best.'
Ping-ping and vice-captain Chan Wai-ping, a Form Four student at CCCKwei Wah Shan College, in North Point, took charge of the first training match in Baotou, watched by coach Ho Shuk-ting.
Ho says: 'Two of the top three mainland teams, Hebei and Beijing, are both in our group, so it will be tough. But we know we can give them a close match.
'We played Jilin at the Games two years ago and, although we lost, the score was close. We play them in this year's group stages and there's no reason we can't win.'
Two of Hong Kong's rivals, Beijing and Guangdong, were training in the gymnasium at the same time, so it gave the teams a chance to size up one another.
Wong Man-sze, of Heep Yunn School, thinks Beijing look the stronger of their two rivals. 'Their players are very tall and powerfully built, which will give them an advantage over smaller teams,' she says.
Hong Kong's power forward and centre, Wong Po-sze, who sprained her ankle in training the day before departing for Inner Mongolia, had to sit and watch her teammates, but is showing signs of improvement.
The injury left her limping as she boarded the flight from Hong Kong and she feared she might miss out on the Games. 'But I am recovering well,' says Po-sze, a Form Three student at Delia Memorial School (Hip Wo). 'Thanks to physiotherapy, I'm getting better and am confident I'll be able to play some matches.'