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Bulldogs In China – An exhibition Victory And A Trip To Alibaba

The Yale, California and Pac-12 contingents at Alibaba (Photo courtesy of Pas-12)
The Yale, California and Pac-12 contingents at Alibaba (Photo courtesy of Pas-12)

The Yale men's basketball team is opening up the 2018-19 season on the other side of the world. The Bulldogs are playing the University of California on Saturday at noon (11 p.m. Friday night in New Haven) in Shanghai in the Pac-12 China Game. The team arrived on Sunday night and leading up to the game will be educated about the business, history and culture of China. Periodically during the trip, the student-athletes will share their experiences.

Senior Trey Phills looks back at Tuesday's exhibition game and Wednesday's trip to the Alibaba campus.

After our team's exhibition match against the Chinese collegiate all stars, we boarded the bus to the hotel just like any other game. I remember the glow of building lights shining through my window, which began to get even brighter as we passed through the city. I put my headphones on, stretched out a bit and looked into the night sky through my window. That's when it hit me: We're REALLY in China, on our way from Suzhou to Hangzhou. I couldn't believe that it would be possible to forget where I was so quickly.

Looking back at Tuesday and also Wednesday's experiences, I see why it might be easy to forget that we're 7,000 miles from home. Last night was an amazing opportunity to be able to play against Peking and Soochow University in front of thousands of students. They rooted for their team "oooh'd and ahhh'd" at the halftime cheer routines and even chanted "defense, defense" just like students back home would. I was reminded that despite all of our cultural differences, we still share several similarities from sports to things like our fashion sense [I was really close to buying a sweatshirt right off someone's back at one point].

Playing in Suzhou was a very valuable experience for both teams. I'm also honored to have been able to represent the United States and help add to the Chinese perspective of American college basketball through this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Wednesday brought a special opportunity in its own way. We got to visit Alibaba headquarters and learn about the company's history and impact on China's economy. Joe Tsai's talk touched on importance of trusting your own potential. We learned how the founders of Alibaba bet on themselves to become one of the leading e-commerce companies in the world. It was really impressive to a see a Yale alum and former student-athlete in such a successful and powerful position.

I noticed midway through the talk that Mr. Tsai was still sweating from our pickup basketball games about 20 minutes earlier. I hate to admit it, but he scored on a couple of our first years, although I'm not mentioning any names.

Overall, it's been a busy trip so far to say the least. I'm glad that we have been able to see Suzhou and Hangzhou, and I'm excited for our arrival in Shanghai.

In addition to his prowess on the court, Trey is also an amateur photographer. Here are some samples of his work.