In part 2 of our Pro Skills Basketball China Tour recap, we reviewed everything the group did in Chengdu, including Hot Pot, pandas, playing pick up at Sichuan University and an exhibition game against the Chinese Basketball Association U21 Sichuan Blue Whale team.
Before that, in part 1, we wrote about our time in Shanghai where we saw a ton of sights, including the world-famous Bund and played one of the most famous streetball teams in China and at one of the most famous playgrounds in Shanghai, Rucker Park.
For this week, however, part 3 recounts the Beijing leg of our trip!
Day 8 – Beijing Temple of Heaven Tour
We arrived on time at Beijing’s main airport (PEK) and drove straight to the Temple of Heaven (天坛).
The main temple, constructed in 1420, lies at the center of a network of smaller temples, each with a specific religious or ceremonial purpose. As the guys wandered the complex, our tour guide Andy filled us in on the site’s rich history dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Conveniently, one of Beijing’s most famous markets is right next door to the Temple of Heaven. After a sufficient amount of walking, we crossed the street for more bargaining and a late lunch.
That evening, we checked in at our last hotel of the trip, the Dongfang (东方酒店). Once we’d put our stuff down we explored the surrounding hutongs, or walled, group housing units that define Beijing’s traditional neighborhoods.
In recent years, hutongs have been razed en masse to make way for more modern development. But the areas we saw as we walked to dinner were relatively well preserved and contained traces of how things used to be.
Day 9 – Beijing Great Wall of China Tour
The next day we got an early start as we trekked out to the Mutianyu (慕田峪) section of the Great Wall (长城). While it is further from the city (~2 hours) and attracts less tourists than the Badaling (八达岭) section, its views and preservation are immaculate.
Given that we came in the heart of summer, showing up early to beat the crowds turned out to be a great idea. With less foot traffic, everyone in our group was free to walk at their own pace.
A few brave souls chose to climb the steep hills up to the 20th watchtower, all way to the end of the section – a nearly four-hour round-trip hike!
Day 10 – Beijing Games v Chinese College & Club Teams
Day three marked the third day in a row visiting a UNESCO World Heritage site. This time, it was the Forbidden City (故宫) at the heart of Beijing.
Similar to sites in Shanghai, the Forbidden City takes you back in time – while providing a stark contrast to the rapid modernization of downtown. Once the basketball tour was complete we hopped on the bus and went out for lunch.
After lunch and a short rest, we traveled to the Western Academy of Beijing for two games against local teams.
In the first, our college players took on the reigning Chinese University Basketball Association (CUBA) Champions, Tsinghua University (清华大学). It was another hard-fought game, but Tsinghua won out in the end 68-62.
In the next contest, our high school guys matched up against the Beijing Falcons, a quality organization run by our friend and partner – Michael Tu.
Alex Cox and Jake Brockmann provided points early and paced team PSB throughout the first half. In the second half, we stymied a late run by the Falcons and David Markey went on to seal the game with some clutch free throw shooting.
Aside from being great athletes, both the Tsinghua University and Falcons players proved that they were top-class individuals off the court as well. We talked and got to know each other over a roast goat dinner at a local farm post-game.
It was an awesome opportunity for high achieving student-athletes from different sides of the world to see just how similar they are.
And with that the 2018 PSB China Basketball Tour was complete. The next morning we checked out, drove to the airport and started the long trip back to the US!
You can also watch all 10 videos of our PSB China Tour 2018 below!
Keep an eye out for a final 2018 PSB China Tour blog that will accompany the release of our official tour documentary. In it, we will review lessons learned and provide a clue as to what is coming next for PSB China…stay tuned!
Also, make sure to listen to the PSB Podcast “Pick & Pop” episode on Basketball in China featuring Karl Barkley and hear what it is like to live in China as a PSB coach.