Eagles embrace the lessons learnt from historic Taiwan tour

A lack of success on the basketball court has done little to sour a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ experienced by La Trobe University’s premier female basketball players.

After winning the inaugural Women’s University Basketball League (UBL) championship back in May last year, the La Trobe University Women’s Basketball team won the right to head to Taiwan last month as a representative of UniSport Australia to play in a series of exhibition games against Taiwan-based universities.

The team spent nine days in the country’s capital city of Taipei, where in addition to training and playing, the eleven La Trobe students on the tour had the chance to indulge in the local sights, cultural experiences and hospitality that the East Asia nation has to offer.

On the court, the La Trobe girls faced tough opposition in their three games against Taiwan’s top-ranked university basketball teams. After going down in their first game by 11 points against Chinese Culture University, the Eagles fought back strongly in their second game to nearly pinch a last gasp win against National Taiwan Normal University, only to fall short by the barest of margins.

In the team’s final game, La Trobe encountered a full-strength Shih-Hsin University, who showed why they were ranked number one in the Taiwan university basketball system with a clinical 20-point win.

Despite falling to secure a win on the tour, La Trobe University Women’s team captain, Jayde Kirk (Master of Occupational Therapy), said her team could take plenty of positives from their Taiwanese basketball experience.

“The girls gave it an awesome shot, and we really put up a tough fight against some really good opposition (throughout the tour),” Kirk said.

““I think from the first game, we adjusted really well to the pace and the physicality (that the Taiwan teams play at). At times, it has felt like a completely different game (to what we are used to), but we have all been saying it has been an incredible opportunity to see how people from Taiwan play the game.

“The physicality and the aggression they play with is absolutely crazy and there are not many fouls called in Taiwan, and the speed these teams play with is lightening quick. The first game we spent just trying to keep up, but then in the second game we did a much better job of matching them and getting some of our style in there as well.”

Sharing the sentiments of her captain, Bendigo Campus-based student, Meg McCarthy (Bachelor of Occupational Therapy), said the experience of playing in Taiwan would hold the team in good stead for their 2023 UBL national title defence when the second season of the UBL kicks off later this year.

“It’s just been amazing to play in another country and see the different styles of basketball that have been played,” McCarthy said.

“The three games we played (in Taiwan) were probably the most different in style games I have ever played in, but it was a lot of fun and I think I learnt a lot personally and loved every minute of it.

“I think we learnt a lot through the three games as a team as well. I think we learnt to play through the contact and to just keep playing as a team and stick together because that is what is most important.”

Kirk added that the benefits of the trip to Taiwan went beyond the positive experiences on the basketball court, describing the chance to represent La Trobe University on the world stage as a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’.

“A lot of us have been saying that we probably wouldn’t have come to Taiwan if it wasn’t for this trip, so it’s been so incredible to see the culture, the people and everything about this country has been so beautiful,” Kirk said.

“We’re just so grateful for the opportunity.”

To view our four-part post-tour recap of the La Trobe University Women’s team’s experience in Taiwan, head across to the La Trobe Sport Facebook and Instagram channels for player interviews, highlights and much more.

If you would like more information on La Trobe University’s University Basketball League (UBL) program or want to learn more details on how you can get involved with either our Women’s or Men’s teams for the 2023 season, head to the La Trobe Sport website.