It was a battle of two nations in Lycoming County as a high school basketball team from China faced off against one from right here in the USA.
The Williamsport Millionaires took the court to play against a team from Shanghai Wednesday night.
Organizers said this is the first time a Chinese high school basketball team has played in the United States.
The Shanghai team is here competing against five other schools, including Williamsport.
As the Williamsport Millionaires took the court at the Magic Dome, the high school basketball team seemed pumped.
And why not? It’s not everyday you get a chance to face off against a team from another country.
“Oh yes, we’re so ready, we’re so ready. Are you guys ready? Ya’ll ready!” said Millionaires Co-captain Sharif Coleman.
The Millionaires took on the Nanyang Model High School basketball team from Shanghai at Williamsport Area High School.
The team of twelve is on a tour to play against five high schools in the United States with Williamsport being their third stop.
“It’s a basketball city,” said Millionaires coach Allen Taylor. “These guys get up for any team that comes in but when you get an opportunity to play Shanghai, shucks they got 20 million people just in that city alone.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Shanghai team members said it was exciting to compete against Americans.
“Coach said he knows Americans are really good country and he’s very proud that he can bring the team and then can learn a lot, especially the culture,” said translator Billy Wang on behalf of Nanyang Coach Li Zu Ji.
The Nanyang Model High School can claim a basketball star. Retired NBA player Yao Ming, who played for the Houston Rockets, graduated from Nanyang, something that makes the boys very proud.
“Yeah, he’s a hero of China basketball,” said Wang, translating for Nanyang captain Meng Shen Ling.
There was even a moment of international diplomacy as the two teams exchanged gifts.
For the Williamsport Millionaires and their fans, getting a chance to be a part of this experience is something they won’t soon forget.
“It’s wonderful,” said Amy Mahon of Williamsport. “It’s really exciting. It’s a great opportunity for the community and the school.”
“I want them to come here, knowing that they played us, saying that they had a great time, playing the Millionaires in the United States and bring it back to China,” said Coleman.
“Americans are very friendly,” Wang translated for Ling.
While the team is here, they plan to sightsee in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
And of course, while in Williamsport, they visited the Little League Hall of Fame Museum.