Langley hoopster and her team win against Japan

The coach of the Japan U-18 Select girls basketball team wanted to put his players to the test by bringing them to Canada.

“I want to give them a chance to play against a tall player in Canada,” coach Tatushi Isshiki said through a translator.

The team is prepping for the Asian Games and the three-game series against Team BC Selects offered other benefits.

“The reason why we are here is to improve each game,” he said.

So he used all the squad so they could be exposed to a different style of ball in another culture.

His players are high school students ages 16-18. They played Team BC to a 71-62 win on April 2 with Team BC taking game 2 with 71-67. Game 3 is Saturday at UBC.

“We have to improve defensively,” Isshiki said about the two days between games.

That won’t leave the teens much time to be sightseeing but he said they’ve taken a shine to one aspect of Canada.

“The food is great,” he said.

Langley’s Tayla Jackson is on the Selects, and was flattered when asked to join the group of young women from high schools and universities.

“I thought it would be a great experience because I was able to play with girls I look up to at the university level,” she said.

The Grade 12 student at Brookswood Secondary plays forward. (Trinity Western University’s Chantelle Martin and Kayla Gordon are also on the team.)

Jackson said the first game was a little rough. Team BC only has four practices before taking on the visitors.

“It’s very scrambly at times but it’s good,’ Jackson said. “It makes us think on our feet. We’ve gotta make quick decisions, so it’s a big learning experience for us.”

The Selects gelled better for the second meeting.

“It’s very fast paced, a very physical game. I’ve never played at the international level before so it’s pretty cool.

The games are a challenge but Jackson sees the benefits, especially since she plans to continue playing basketball into university.

Game 3 is April 5 at UBC. Admission to the games has been a donation to KidsSportBC.

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