Taiwanese-US player boosts women’s basketball team
Basketball has always been one of the most popular sports in Taiwan and one of the few sports on the island to have regular professional/semi-professional leagues. However, when we talk about basketball’s popularity in the country, we usually are focusing only on men’s basketball instead of women’s.
Taiwan’s national women’s basketball team and women’s basketball as a whole have not receive the same level of attention as men’s basketball for decades despite the fact that it has outperformed its men’s counterparts for years.
Taking the 2014 Asian Games as an example, Taiwan’s women’s basketball team, playing under the name Chinese Taipei, nearly grabbed a bronze before it lost to Japan in the semifinals. The No. 4 finish was a lot better than the men’s team, which was kicked out of the event early after suffering consecutive losses to Kazakhstan and mainland China.
Despite its global competitiveness, however, women’s basketball in Taiwan, like many other sports played by female athletes, has enjoyed very little media spotlight.
There is an existing semi-professional Women’s Super Basketball League (WSBL) that has now existed for nine seasons. But with no live broadcasts, the WSBL has drawn very little attention and fan support.
The same goes for the William Jones Cup tournament, an annual international basketball tourney that has taken place in Taipei for more than three decades.
Contrary to the men’s version, there was little or no live broadcast of the women’s games in the annual tourney held during the summer for years and there were very few in the crowd to watch the games even though entry was free.
The lackluster attention afforded to women’s basketball at the Jones Cup, however, changed dramatically this year.
More than 6,000 fans crowded into the Taipei Gymnasium for the first two games of Chinese Taipei women’s hoop team late last month during this year’s tourney, a record high in nearly a decade.
The sudden rise in the attendance rate was largely thanks to the infusion of new blood into the team. That is the Taiwanese-American player Joy Burke ( ). Priory to the tournament, Taiwan’s Chinese Taipei Basketball Association (CTBA) announced that Burke would be joining the national squad for the Jones Cup and the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.
The 1.96-meter-tall player, born to a Taiwanese mother and an American father, has officially become the tallest player in local women’s basketball history.
The 24-year-old played college basketball for the Arizona State Sun Devils in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the U.S. In the 33 games she played for the Devils during the 2013-14 season, she averaged 7.3 points on 51.4 shooting, 4.8 rebounds per game.
Though she is not the first Taiwanese-American national team player, the center has become an overnight sensation in Taiwan ever since the CTBA’s announcement.
Speaking fluent Mandarin as she grew up in Taiwan and did not leave the island until she was 12, the good-looking and easygoing Burke has immediately become a popular player among her new teammates and fans alike.
Her performance on the court during the just-concluded tournament also proves that she has the potential to take the team to the next level.
Team Taiwan ultimately finished in only third place during the tournament. However, Burke’s eye-catching performance has given a new hope to Taiwan’s women’s basketball.
The China Post would like to congratulate Taiwan’s basketball authorities for finding Burke and convincing her to join the national team.
We believe that similar to the roles played by Quincy Davis, Burke stands out as a player not because of her personal statistics and numbers but her ability to encourage her teammates to be better.
As displayed during the Jones Cup, she is always willing to pass the ball, cheer her teammates up when the team is trailing and do all the dirty work on the court.
It might take some time for her to be fully integrated into the national team’s system. But when that happens, Burke could be the last piece of a puzzle that could bring Taiwan women’s basketball to the world stage.