Ballin' in Taiwan

In the first week of July, the UNSW Basketball Club made our international debut at the 2018 Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) Cup in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The tournament was conceived to celebrate sport cultural exchange and offer university athletes an opportunity to compete on an international stage. Proudly sponsored by Blackmore’s, our men’s and women’s basketball teams were the very first Australian teams to be invited to compete, our selection owing to strong performances within Australian competition.

Men’s and women’s university teams from America, Australia, Canada, China, France, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan competed in a ‘round pool and crossover’ format over the seven days of the cup. Our UNSW men’s team were challenged by the strength of their pool, including teams from Canada and Taiwan with million-dollar basketball programs. However, UNSW gave a great fight, with other coaches commenting on the team’s formidably fast style of play and the cohesion with which our men play together as a team.

UNSW Basketball can also claim the very first slam dunk of the BLIA Cup, snagged by Barney Pinkerton versus the National Taiwan Sport University in the first game of the week!

Point guard Nate Sutton (c) and centre Max Wallner enjoyed particularly impressive performances throughout the tournament. Our UNSW men’s team achieved 8th place, bringing home a trophy and representing Australia with great pride and sportsmanship.

The UNSW women’s team was also challenged in their competition pool, which included the Malaysian Women’s National team who had competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games! UNSW refused to be intimidated, only going down by six baskets to Malaysia, and pushing other teams through tactical use of our strengths, including height in the key. 

6’3 (191cm) centre Hannah Ryan (c), was hilariously presented to the media at the opening press conference as the tallest female athlete at the BLIA Cup.

Hannah and point guard Brittnée Sewell achieved highlight performances across all games, and guard Kate Ryan was key in defensive play. A credit to every player, the UNSW women’s team became known for our spirit throughout the tournament, with our support of one another both on and off the court. Matching the men, our UNSW women’s team also achieved 8th place, bringing home another trophy and representing Australia with passion and style.

The UNSW Basketball squad of players, coaches and team physiotherapist were astounded by the generosity and goodwill of BLIA Cup officials, volunteers and fans. We experienced a surreal sense of celebrity; Kaohsiung Arena holds 30,000 spectators, games were also televised across Asia and streamed online across the world. Fans queued at the arena’s athlete entrances for photos and autographs.

An official Australian cheer squad representing BLIA Australia was also sent to the tournament, meaning we had 50 devout fans in matching t-shirts and caps with vuvuzelas and flags at every game! It is difficult to express how grateful we are to everyone

Hannah Ryan
Club President

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