Giant on the ball

Giant on the ball

A young basketball star towers above other players both in height and finesse

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Andy Yee Hon-fai, a 16-year-old basketball player from La Salle College, is a towering presence on the court and an essential part of his school team's success.
Andy Yee Hon-fai, a 16-year-old basketball player from La Salle College, is a towering presence on the court and an essential part of his school team's success.
Photo: Dickson Lee
Andy Yee Hon-fai is tall - very tall. At 1.93 metres, he is a commanding presence both on the basketball court and in school.

The student at La Salle College played a key role in helping his school team break the dominance of Ying Wa College and Diocesan Boys' School (DBS) in the Kowloon division of the Inter-school Basketball Competition.

The turning point for his team came last November during a match against DBS. "Just before the end of the game we were still one point behind," recalls the 16-year-old Form Five student. "But then we earned two penalty shots and won by a single point."

The win - thanks to those last two points Andy scored - meant his school progressed to the final, where they lost to Ying Wa College. They were also beaten by the same team in the final of the Panasonic Cup Schools' Basketball Championship, although at one stage La Salle were ahead by 10 points.

Yet Andy has helped turn his team into a formidable force. He will also strengthen the ranks of Hong Kong's basketball team at the All China Secondary School Students' Games this July in Inner Mongolia.

He expects the team will have difficult matches ahead. "Many [mainland] players are tall and muscular - taller even than me. We might get the feeling that we are up against a 'Great Wall of China' on the court," Andy jokes. He should know: this year he attended the Nike All China High Schools Basketball League, where the Hong Kong team made it to the semi-finals only to lose to a powerful school team from Beijing.

Andy says he learned his lesson. "We were behind only by a few points in the beginning but were eventually trounced by 20 points," he says. "They play aggressively and we must be prepared to withstand them."

He will certainly be doing his best. He practises relentlessly. "I live next door to my school. I can even see the track and field ground from my window," Andy says. "When I was in junior form, I practised every day even during the summer vacation. I played for hours practising footwork and dribbling. Sometimes I also played with my classmates. That's how I have had a breakthrough in the sport."

His zeal has even caused him some injuries. "Sometimes I hurt my ankle when I don't have enough warm-up exercises. Because of my height, I have a greater risk of spraining my ankle," he explains. "I always have to remind myself to do a full set of warm-up exercises and wear shoes that can fully protect my ankles. I don't want to go off the court because of injury."

But there are also perks that come with the challenge of having to face down mainland players. The Games will give Andy the chance to do some sightseeing in Inner Mongolia.

"I have never been there before," the teen notes. "I think it must have some fascinating scenery.

"I've also heard the local barbequed beef and lamb are delicious. I must try them!"

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