During the US Memorial Day weekend, the Vancouver Strathcona Basketball Club sent three teams to Dallas, Texas to compete in the 36th Annual North American Chinese Basketball Invitational Tournament (NACBAIT). This is North America’s largest Chinese basketball tournament with 73 teams participating in nine divisions.
The men’s team, who last won the Open Elite Division in Minneapolis 2013, brought home another title this year. Led by tournament MVP Tommy Nixon (UBC) and James Lum (SFU), the VSBC men recorded wins over Texas (62-57), LunarNYC (53-32), Boston Knights (71-50) and New York UEAA (52-36) to finish first in round robin pool play. The semifinals saw a rematch against the Boston Knights with a closer margin win of 56-43 before a dominant 63-39 win over last year's champions, the Toronto Dragons in the finals.
Our women’s team was tested early when they met the two-time defending champs, Toronto Warriors, in the opening game of pool play, losing by one basket 35-37. This tough loss fueled their two wins over New York (53-39) and Toronto White Tigers (40-25) to finish first in a 3-way tie in their pool. In the semifinals, they rolled through LunarNYC (48-33) before losing to host team Texas (42-52) in the finals. Leading the charge to a silver place finish was Cherub Lum (UBC), Jennifer Ju (Thompson Rivers University) and tournament All-Star Gabriela Koc-Spadaro (Capilano). Congratulations to coaches Juliane Chien and Greg Eng.
The U18 girls had another dominating year defending their National Chinese title against Toronto (31-19), New York Sabres (46-26), Philadelphia Suns (40-20) and the New York Rockits (31-13) in round robin. In the Finals against New York (49-21), the girls had outstanding team contribution with special recognition to Tournament MVP Julian Duong (Thompson Rivers University) and All-Star Cecilia Bao (Johns Hopkin University). Congratulations to our other four graduating players: Christina Hoang, Anita Ip, Jeanne d'Arc Le and Hauna Wong (Langara) on a great finish to the U18 NACBAIT career.
The VSBC’s program success is a testament to the skill level of the players, being able to compete and succeed against their North American counterparts in a fast-paced 36 minute running-time game. Many of these players first started with the Strathcona Community Center children’s basketball program; then continue playing in high school, and being selected on Basketball BC's provincial teams and other renowned club basketball teams. A number of players continue their careers at the post-secondary level or recreational leagues.
For the U18 girls, their performance off the court is also to be commended. At the recent Strathcona Hoop-A-Thon, four of the VSBC girls received scholarships in recognition for their academic, athletic and community service excellence. The Vancouver Sunrise Rotary Club help raise funds to support the Strathcona Community Center Basketball program and generously provide these scholarships to graduating students who not only excel academically, but within their community. An example, is one of the players’ was named a tournament all-star in Dallas but is also the founder and co-chaired the Ted-X Youth conference (FOCUS) recently held in Vancouver.
Some recognizable names from the women’s and men’s teams are former high school and university players including: Jennifer Ju (Britannia, Thompson Rivers University); Jesseca Eng (York House, Langara College); Cherub Lum (York House, UBC), Ashley dela Cruz Yip (Britannia, Capilano), Gabriela Koc-Spadaro (Windsor, Capilano); Tommy Nixon (Kitsilano, UBC), Garrett Ling-Lee (Vancouver College, Langara) and James Lum (Tupper, SFU). On the U18 Girls’ team, coached by Jennifer Eng (Churchill) and Mitra Tshan (Britannia), players that played in the 2016 BC Senior Girls Provincial Championships were: Julian Duong, Jeanne D’Arc Le, Christina Hoang Jen Hoang, Lucy Guan (Britannia); Cecilia Bao (Churchill) and Alexis Fong (Little Flower Academy).