2007 FIBA Asia Championships in Tokushima
From July 28 to August 5, I volunteered at the 2007 FIBA Asia Championships held in my backyard of Tokushima City. This past week has been a very fun experience for me, I met many great people living in Tokushima volunteering who could speak English and I was able to catch some of the action courtside! According to my volunteer I.D. pass, I was an interpreter, but with so many more fluent Japanese interpreters, my minimal skills were rarely called upon. I was the only foreigner in the interpreter group, so everyone cut me a lot of slack to just enjoy myself. I spent most of the time talking with other volunteers at the help desk and courtside checking credentials. There were a total of 16 countries in the tournament, including China, Jordan, Iran, the Philippines, Lebanon, Kuwait, the U.A.E., Quatar, India, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Korea, Hong Kong, Syria, Taiwan, and Japan. With China being the host country of next year’s Olympics, they had an automatic bid into the Summer Games, so they sent their “B” Team to the tournament who had no chance. With only one Olympic birth available, the competition was heated despite not many people attending the games. One of the games that I was able to watch while not volunteering was Japan v.s. Korea, which Japan lost 93-83. Not surprisingly, basketball takes a very back seat to baseball in Japan, and despite Yuta Tabuse recently becoming the first Japanese to play in an NBA game, the momentary feat has not been enough to win-over Japanese sports fans. Nevertheless, I thought the Japanese team played with a lot of heart and it was disappointing to see them lose. Interestingly, the Japanese team features one recently naturalized citizen, J.R. Henderson – who played for U.C.L.A.’s 1995 N.C.A.A. National Championship Team and was drafted 27th by the Vancouver Grizzlies in the 2nd Round of the 1998 NBA Draft. J.R. Henderson now goes by the name of “Sakuragi J.R.” and is playing professional basketball in Japan. I got a picture with him, check that out below! In the end, Iran beat Lebanon 74-69 to secure their first birth to the Olympics in the sport of basketball. The third place team was Korea and Japan finished 8th overall.
Check out all my pictures below!