This post was updated 2:22 p.m. Japan time 11/23/2012.
Through the eyes and ears of observers at the Hong Kong International School Holiday Basketball Tournament, mainly former Faith Academy girls coach Dan Beaver, who stopped in at the tournament on his way back to Boracay from a visit to Australia. “Not the same without Faith and DODDS schools,” he says. So, too, did longtime Singapore American boys coach Mike Norman, former HKIS girls coach Adrian Price and athletics director Mike Baker.
DODDS teams withdrew from the tournament after participating for many years, after rules were put in place barring teams from home staying their players with host families.
Only six boys and six girls teams this year instead of the usual eight. HKIS athletics director Sharon Leung had to scramble to get even that many. Newcomers include Canadian International School of Hong Kong, American School of Bangkok and Australia International School of Singapore.
Defending champion Chinese school KWS college, which won both boys and girls titles last year, did not return. Heep Yun is back and appears to be the favorite on the girls’ side along with Singapore American. Host HKIS and Singapore is the best guess to reach the boys final.
Instead of two pools, all six boys and all six girls teams take on each other, giving every team five pool-play games through mid-day Friday, two games one day, three the other. Seeding for the playoffs is based on win-loss records and points tiebreakers. All teams are in the running for Saturday’s final, not the format used by the Asia-Pacific Activities Conference and Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools. After round-robin in those events, it’s fifth vs. sixth for fifth place, third vs. fourth for third place and first vs. second for the championship.
Spectators have a chance to win big bucks by hitting a “money-ball” shot from half-court during games involving Hong Kong International School. The pool started at $300 Hong Kong ($1 U.S. equals $7.75 Hong Kong) and was up to $500 Hong Kong after Day 1. No winners yet, Beaver reports.
Beaver says he spent much of Thursday chatting it up with Price, who’s the new principal at YMCA Hong Kong Christian College, as well as Baker, reliving great moments in HKIS tournament lore, plus some Far East tournament memories. Yes, the gathering place of choice following each day’s play will again be the Stanley Waterfront and its Main Street café, and Beaver says he, Baker and Price planned to continue their discussion there.
Faith alumnus Jon Dwyer worked the public address mike in the high school gym. The student Internet video Web-streaming crop are using high-grade TV cameras this year, instead of the old camcorders.
Norman, who’s coached at Singapore American for 37 years and has won this tournament eight times, says this will be his last year coaching the Eagles. He plans to move to Napa Valley, Calif., after the school year. So, Norman will chase title No. 9 before he retires. The host Lady Dragons have won the most girls titles in this tournament, with 14.
A personal note to Leung: Please keep inviting the DODDS schools each year, and keep inviting them until they return. By the close of one door, another opens, the saying goes.