▲ (from left) General Council Peter Jung, Treasurer Edward Kim, Executive Secretary Jacob Thomson, and President John Lee of the Korean American Basketball Association of Dallas (KABAD)
[Original post date: May 13, 2012]
Hundreds of Korean-American basketball enthusiasts will be gathering in Dallas this summer. Their mission is to celebrate their love for the sport and promote unity among the next generation of Korean-Americans.
Dallas has been chosen to host the second annual Korean-American Basketball Tournament of North America this summer. About 300 Korean-American basketball players and team officials are expected to participate in this event.
The tournament will be held at University of Texas Arlington on July 7th and 8th. 16 teams from Canada, U.S., and Korea are expected to participate. Some of the participating cities include Toronto, Vancouver, LA, Orange County, New York, New Jersey, and Seoul, among other cities.
Preparation well under way
President John Lee of the Korean American Basketball Association of Dallas (KABAD), along with Treasurer Edward Kim, Executive Secretary Jacob Thomson, and General Council Peter Jung, held a news conference last Friday May 11th to promote this event.
According to Lee, the tournament will be played in a 'seeding and elimination' format, which is somewhat similar to the March Madness tournament. Teams will play two seeding games a piece on the opening day. Their seeding will be determined according to the win-loss and point differentials of those games.
Once each team is seeded, single elimination tournament will begin. Some of the single elimination games will be played on the first day. Rest of the tournament games and the final game will be played the next day, July 8th. This format will ensure that each team is guaranteed to will play at least 3 games.
The tournament venue, gymnasium at the University of Texas Arlington, has 4 full-sized basketball courts. Each non-playoff games will be officiated by two referees and the playoff games will have 3 referees. Score keepers will also be hired. KABAD has already reserved about 50 rooms at the Night Hotel by Wyndham, near I-35E and LBJ.
Competition Level High
According to John Lee of KABAD, the competition level of this tournament is extremely high. Some of the players on the Team Orange County and LA, for example, played for UC Irvine.
Because there are so many Korean-American basketball talents playing at this tournament, the scouts from the Korean Basketball League (KBL) often visit these tournaments to recruit basketball talents.
In fact, the KBL scouts visited last year’s tournament, which was held in Orange County. Though not confirmed, KBL scouts are expected to visit Dallas this summer. According to KABAD officials, some players from Seattle and LA were picked up by the KBL scouts and got the chance to play in KBL.
Tournament symbolizes unity and love for the game
The basketball tournament, which is second largest sports event in the entire U.S. Korean-American community next to soccer, symbolizes the young Korean-Americans’ cry for unity.
The inaugural tournament was held last year in Orange County, which Team OC won. The tournament was organized because of the political factions that divided the U.S. Korean-American Sports Association.
"We don’t want to be a part of such a political division. This tournament was first organized to promote mental and physical health through the game of basketball. This tournament symbolizes our desire for unity among the next generation of Korean-Americans" said KABAD President John Lee during the press conference.
"We want the young Korean-American basketball hopefuls to have a hope and a chance to develop their skills. We want to find these people and help them achieve their dreams. We’ve seen Jeremy Lin do it in the NBA" said John Lee.
The day before the tournament, team captains will meet and lay the foundation for establishing a national Korean-American basketball association for the first time. The national organization will bring the Korean-American basketball enthusiasts closer. The organization is being formed to provide the Korean-American basketball hopefuls with a chance to maximize their basketball skills and to promote pure love for the sport.
Each participating team will pay for their own travel expenses and foods. But Team Dallas is responsible for securing the lodging and the tournament venue, which is expected to exceed $15,000.
President John Lee of KABAD emphasized their dire need for sponsorship. KABAD plans to contact the Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and see if he can sponsor this event. But that’s a long shot, at best. That’s why KABAD needs support from the Dallas Korean-American community leaders and businesses.
"We definitely need the financial support. But equally important is the Dallas Korean-American community’s interest in this event. We wanted to host the tournament here because we wanted to show the rest of the country what a great city Dallas has become. And one way to do that is to make the visiting teams feel welcomed" said John Lee.
General Council Peter Jung of KABAD said during the news conference "I’m a 1.5 generation Korean-American myself. We need to set good examples for our kids. Because of the division that’s going on with the U.S. Korean-American Sports Association, some kids prepared for a long time but have no sports events to participate."
"We wanted to provide these kids with a chance to play the sport that they love. If the Sports Association folks can’t come to an agreement, we will continue to have our own basketball tournament. And with the formation of a national basketball association, it will be an on-going and self-sufficient event for us" Jung added.
KABAD officials said the admission and parking are free at the tournament. They encouraged Dallas Korean-Americans to attend the tournament and show the Texas-sized hospitality to the visiting teams.
This year’s event is supported by the Korean American Sports Association of Dallas and the Greater Dallas Korean American Chamber of Commerce. KABAD still needs financial support from the Dallas Korean-American community. Every bit helps. So, if you are interested in giving the next generation of Korean-Americans a hope and promote the City of Dallas, you can contact John Lee at 972-689-8949 and pledge your support.
Team Dallas on a mission
In the mean time, the players on the Team Dallas are on a mission. Team Dallas has many talents on the squad but hasn’t been able to win games at the tournament.
John Lee believes it’s because they haven’t had a coach to bring out the best in each player. That’s about to change.
Team Dallas has acquired Coach Rishi Patel, an Indian-American who played basketball at Southern Methodist University while in college. Patel is still actively involved in basketball. John Lee believes Team Dallas has enough talent to win the tournament but needs some work. Coach Patel is expected to do the job.
Team Dallas uses the gym at the New Song Church on Mondays and Thursdays for practice. On Saturdays and Sundays, they use 24 Hour Fitness Center to practice. Team Dallas needs more gym time for their practice. "If any church that has a gym can allow us to use their gym, it would be a great help for the Team Dallas" said John Lee.
There are about 20 players who are registered with KABAD. 10 players among the KABAD members will be selected to join the team for this year’s tournament.
Korean American Basketball Association of Dallas(KABAD) was formed in 2008 to participate in the U.S. Korean American Sports Games. Since then, it hasn’t had much activity. But with this year’s tournament, KABAD hopes to revitalize Dallas Korean-American basketball community and get more people involved.
If you are interested in participating in this year’s tournament or just want to practice with KABAD, you can contact John Lee at 972-689-8949 for more information.
Tony Chai / firstname.lastname@example.org