The Ball is in Your Court

Basketball is certainly one of the most popular, well-loved sports in China, and in the world in fact. But what does it mean to play or watch it here in Dongguan?

This city. This city oozes basketball. The t-shirt slogan about basketball suffering from insomnia won’t be far away from you. Someone will be wearing it. It isn’t just a cheap marketing ploy. Somewhere within the city, someone is chucking a ball at a backboard and hoop. This Canadian invention has gone far in China. The fast break has been warmly grasped by the mighty hands of Dongguan.

In 2019, our very own Nissan Sports Center, standing proud in Liaobu, will host group stages and knock-out games on the road to the FIBA Basketball World Cup Final at Beijing Cadillac Arena. Dongguan is one of eight cities involved, with half of them based in Guangdong. The home of Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers will see the Son of Dreams mascot hoping to bring dreams true to the Chinese national basketball squad. Dongguan’s big team, Southern Tigers, has Team 2, Team 3A and 3B but only the latter plays regularly in our city. NBA-experienced Donald Sloan can be spotted around the city from time to time and is most approachable to a polite request for a photo. He might not lay you up for a shot, but like many professionals, he’ll have the right answers for this game.

In 2019, our very own Nissan Sports Center, standing proud in Liaobu, will host group stages and knock-out games on the road to Beijing Cadillac Arena.

But, maybe, you’ve yet to reach that level? Perhaps a better starting point is the park. Basketball courts are everywhere, factories, schools, businesses, and dotted among the new super malls that span Dongguan. The best place I find, are the free places. The parks. Good old public bastions of escapism.

At the top of my personal airball (a shot that misses everything) list is the Houjie Olympic Park. Why? Because, white men can jump—and here everyone is friendly and wishing you to join their games. No matter how bad you are! Up by Dongcheng’s CBA Dongguan Basketball School (part backed by NBA) there are heaps of courts, with the picturesque Qifeng Park housing several in its grounds. They can be a little busy—but the secret is to go early—6 am should do it. Failing that Guangcheng’s People’s Park is a short Mobike ride away. Or, you can hire courts throughout the city. They often have names like V5, V or VS. I’m unsure why.

Our city’s basketball culture stretches from youth camps, to clubs dedicated and passionately drilling the sport into the future generations, to hosting international fixtures and charitable games. There are leagues with names that roughly translate to Dongguan International Basketball League and almost every district has leagues or challenge games. The tradition in areas such as Liaoxia is to have a three-match village tournament with the winner claiming a cash prize. My foray into both watching and playing basketball has helped my Mandarin-learning too. Knowing the right words for “bank shot” or “double dribble” could be useful.

You can watch basketball at every bar, restaurant or corner shop with a TV screen outside. There are games across the city and occasional women’s fixtures involving Guangdong Dolphins. To find company for watching basketball is easy. Fans of almost every NBA squad, CBA followers and local league players are throughout the city. Many gather in sports bars such as A-ONE Sports Bar in Dongcheng. You can sit comfortably wearing your basketball shoes bought at a major sports store in the mall. No need to reach the 120 inches above you.

With passion for the leather ball being this high, it is hoped an improvement on eighth placed will come to the home nation. For 16 days from last month to September it’s coming home, right? That being said, if it rains you need to play indoors. Winnerway’s indoor centers in Nancheng are the right place for that. Just like you now have, they have winning ways for the well-loved sport in Dongguan.

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