Low turnout but Hong Kong basketball fans are treated to NBA skills show in Yao Ming charity game
Hong Kong Coliseum is just 70 per cent full with some fans choosing to stay away after the furore over the absence of NBA players
It was a thrilling night for Hong Kong’s basketball fans who turned out to witness the dazzling skills of a group of NBA stars on Sunday night at the Hong Kong Coliseum. The only dampener was that the marquee event held at the city’s 11,000-seater venue was barely two-thirds full.
Many fans chose not to show up after organisers claimed most of the tickets were sold. The game was also a big part of the city’s celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the reunification and organisers said they were happy with the attendance and the atmosphere.
Before the game, some fans complained about the failure of several NBA teams to send their players to Hong Kong, with organisers agreeing to refund tickets. The mainlanders won the encounter 86-83.
Those fans who did turn up were not disappointed as they were treated to the powerful slam dunking of Justin Anderson of the Philadelphia 76ers, the three-pointer attempts of J R Smith from the Cleveland Cavaliers and the goal-scoring skills of Gary Payton II.
They all impressed fans while China’s national team members Wang Zhelin and Sun Minghui were also outstanding in the match.
CBA coach Li Nan, who is also the national team coach, summed it up by saying: “It’s an event to help the children to have their basketball dream come true.”
The charity match also involved young students from Hong Kong and across the border as they were featured in the third quarter of the match. One of the students, Cheung Ching-ho from Kowloon Tong Alliance Primary School, was impressed by the individual skills of Smith, who played in this year’s NBA championship Finals.
“His crossover, turn-around and other skills are so impressive that you can’t believe he’s doing all of this in front of you,” said the youngster. “I have learnt a lot from tonight’s game and hopefully it can help improve my skills as I grow up.”
NBA team coach Brian Goorjian said the whole event was about having fun.
“Everybody had a lot of fun tonight,” he said. “They could see the athleticism of the American team, the three-point shooting and the match was played in good spirits and for a great cause.
“I have been involved with this event two times already and I found it was a step up from last year.”