Stone Oak Basketball Team Travels To Beijing
Submitted By Erin Kirwan
If you were to ask a 13-year old how he spent his summer, you probably wouldn’t expect to hear that he visited Beijing, China as a guest of its government! But that’s exactly what the players with Shooting For Success, a youth basketball club team based out of the Stone Oak area, did. The team was invited to China to compete alongside some of the world’s best up and coming athletes.
This July, Shooting For Success, founded and coached by former professional player and current Pro Trainer David Jones, spent 10 days in China. As someone who spent the majority of his professional basketball career playing overseas, Jones understands how much traveling abroad can help a person grow.
“Playing ball overseas changed my life,” said Jones.
Jones has taken his club teams abroad in the past. But what sparked the idea to travel to China? Six of Jones’ 14-member U13 team are of Asian descent. One player’s grandmother even lived in China for many years and still keeps in touch with her family and friends overseas. When she asked Jones if she could involve the Beijing government with the American team’s trip, Jones obliged, and the team’s plans quickly took flight.
Over a 10-day period, the Shooting For Success team and many of the players’ parents traveled from Shanghai to Beijing, playing games in both cities. On the court, the San Antonio team played by FIBA International rules – the same guidelines followed by Olympians. Under FIBA rules, the court must be the same size as an NBA regulation court. Game quarters and the shot clock are both longer than what Shooting For Success is accustomed to. It was not until shortly before the American players were ready to take to the court that Jones realized he had not gone over FIBA game rules with his team.
“Our boys got a crash course and did impressively well,” Jones laughingly said.
The level of play was definitely elevated and highly competitive. The majority of the Chinese players were over six feet tall!
“The Chinese players were really going at it!” 13 year-old Christian Perez recalled.
In all, Shooting for Success lost three of the four games played against its Chinese opponents. Coach Jones, however, said his team competed better than they ever had.
“I could not be more proud,” he stated.
Shooting for Success Point Guard, Carson Bindseil, age 13, was awarded MVP of the Shanghai exhibition games, a great honor for the young player.
“This MVP award just makes me want to keep improving my game,” Bindseil said.
Despite a language barrier, political differences, and cultures unknown to one another, the Chinese and American youth teams came together in the spirit of friendly competition and a shared love for their sport. In fact, the team was treated like royalty by their Chinese friends! Before the game in Shanghai, the Chinese presented Shooting For Success with a gift. In exchange, the San Antonio team presented their opponents t-shirts displaying the Shooting For Success core values in both English and Chinese. Also, during the team’s stay, Chinese television news crews interviewed the American teens and Coach Jones. One evening, Beijing officials even held a special dinner in the American team’s honor. The warm welcome by the Chinese surprised the boys. Several times, Chinese mothers asked to take pictures with the players and Jones, often handing them their babies to hold for the photograph. The boys felt like true rock stars – even better, they felt like Kawhi Leonard!
Off the court, the Texas team explored as much of China as they could. They walked along The Great Wall, rode the high-speed Bullet Train from Shanghai to Beijing, and toured Tiananmen Square. They even visited a math museum and got a taste of how highly the Chinese prioritize academics.
“Those kids answered incredibly difficult math questions faster than I’ve ever seen!” said Christian.
Parent Trisha Bindseil, a first-generation Chinese-American, described the visit to China with her Texas-born children as an “experience of a lifetime.” Both the athletes and their parents returned to San Antonio with memories that will last forever and amazing life lessons learned through a shared love and worldwide passion for basketball.
The Beijing government has already invited Jones to return to China with a future team. Jones said he is planning on it.