Shooting, passing, dribbling and blocking are all basic skills that most basketball players are good at and will focus on during training. But Amanda Lai Nga-man, the 2017 Nike All Hong Kong Schools Jing Ying Basketball Tournament’s Most Valuable Player, is a little different. Amanda says she focuses more on rebounding, which can mean the difference between winning and losing.
“You can’t ensure every ball you shoot will go in to the basket,” says the 18-year-old centre from Heep Yunn School. “There is always the chance for a rebound. That’s where you need to be alert. Rebounding can be both offensive and defensive.
“An offensive rebound refers to a player who grabs the ball when a teammate has missed a shot. A defensive rebound is the one you grab when your opponent has missed a shot.”
Honing your rebounding skills can be tough because it tests your ability to react quickly, Amanda tells Young Post. “You can take the shot yourself or ask your teammates to shoot, and then catch the rebound. As the ball can come from any angle, practice helps me anticipate the rebound. This speeds up my reaction time,” she says.
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The Heep Yunn star says rebounding involves a lot of body contact, so taller and physically stronger centres have an advantage. However, she adds that coordination with teammates is key to rebounding and other tactics.
“To execute a strategy, you need teammates to work with you, in terms of where they move or who shoots and passes the ball. We repeat these tactics many times during training so that we know what we should do in different situations.”
Amanda played a key role in helping her team win this year’s Jing Ying Basketball Tournament and Division One (Kowloon) Girls’ A-Grade Inter-School Basketball Competition. She hopes to take home two more titles this year – the Panasonic Inter-School Basketball Competition 2017 and Hong Kong Inter-School Basketball Marathon.
Although Heep Yunn have dominated inter-school basketball competitions in recent years, Amanda won’t forget their defeat against Chinese YMCA Secondary School in a preliminary round game in last year’s Jing Ying Basketball Tournament.
“The loss was a wake-up call for our team as we could have done everything better, such as penalty shots and defence. It helped us to prepare better for our later games, and improve our skills,” she says.
Apart from retaining the “Grand Slam” – winning all four inter-school basketball competitions – Amanda has set her sights on representing Hong Kong at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
“It’s my dream to represent the city and play against other Asian basketball giants,” says Amanda. “I believe such a dream isn’t unrealistic if I can take part in more large-scale tournaments and gain more experience. I’ll also try to improve my basketball skills by watching Taiwanese star Chen Wei-an’s videos.”
Who is your favourite athlete?
I’m greatly inspired by Chen Wei-an, who is a charismatic leader and excellent basketball player. Even though she was mourning her father’s death in 2012, she led her school team to the High School Basketball League title that year, and they won the championship again in 2013. I want to follow in her footsteps and fight hard to make my dreams come true.
What movie title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
The Avengers. Basketball is a team sport. Winning a match relies on how we work well together as a team. That’s exactly what the Avengers, like Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk, are like. Everyone can make a huge impact and complement each other perfectly.
What food would you never give up?
Chocolate, because it always puts me in a good mood. I can’t eat a big meal before a game, but a chocolate bar boosts my energy and confidence.
If you could have the abilities of any animal for one competition, which would you choose and why?
A rabbit. They can jump very high and run fast. Then I would be more agile, and able to grab rebounds easily.