May 27, 2010
University of Kentucky men's basketball players Josh Harrellson and Jon Hood, along with other collegiate players, will travel with Sports Reach to China on May 14 through May 31 to compete in eight to nine games against local clubs, including the Bayi Basketball Club, traditionally one of the top teams in China. Game recaps are from Robby Speer of Sports Reach along with updates from Harrellson:
May 17, 2010 - Game 1
Chongqing, China -- We have arrived in Chongqing from an early morning flight from Beijing. The team rolled out at 5:15 a.m. to get to the airport for our 7:20 a.m. flight. We don't have a great deal of flying on this trip which is always a blessing. You are only allowed 42 pounds per person regardless of number of pieces of luggage that you check. It makes for an overage on the first flight since we have so many giveaways for the other teams and people. Had some great friends great us at the airport. Weiming, Mr. Yang's assistant and Sarge, in charge of the bus and travel, were friendly faces meeting us as we flew in. Mr. Yang is the guy that sets all of our stuff up. He has been in the government and part of the basketball federation but now also has a sports marketing company. He is always great to work with. We are now on the bus, a very nice one at that, heading for Changshou. Supposed to be an hour ride but you never really know until you get there. The guys have really been great. They have jumped in and helped with luggage and really made it a point to try to talk with the locals.
4:30 p.m. - Finished our team time, led by Max Appel. We are excited about learning new things about ourselves. We had a good shootaround. The arena is really nice and the floor is super. That in itself is amazing in that we many times have slick floors, which I am expecting more times than not. Guys are resting a bit as we are getting ready for pregame meal. There seems to be pretty good chemistry at the moment, but you never know.
Game one is in the books with an 87-75 Reach USA win. A real tough game physically but one that seemed to be in hand for most of the game. It was a close game early when Skylar McBee, now know as "Skylar McThree," hit two threes to put the USA team up by seven and managed to get it up to 15 in the first half. The Bayi Rockets fought back and cut the led to seven at the half. The Chinese team got within five but again behind the hot shooting of McBee. Sixtenn was the biggest second-half margin.
May 18, 2010 - Game 2
Tongnan, China -- Long bus ride today, but tomorrow will be longer. It will be four to five hours, which is the longest one we have, thank goodness. We had a great team time today with massage and group time. The guys are really meshing well. However, the day did not end quite the way we would have liked.
Bayi Rockets 77, Reach USA 76
A banked in three-pointer with two seconds on the clock but well after the shot clock had expired dealt Reach USA a heartbreaking 77-76 loss. Poor clock management in the last 1:30 allowed the Rockets to have an opportunity to win. Two free throws by Skylar McBee with 1:30 put the U.S. team up by four. Some ill-advised shots gave Bayi an opportunity to hit two free throws with 35 seconds. A quick missed on the offensive end allowed the home squad the chance to pull it out and it did.
In the first half, Reach USA squandered several opportunities to put themselves well ahead by making 17 turnovers, compared to just 13 last night. They had a four-point lead at half and led late in the third by as much as 13.
May 19, 2010 - Game 3
Qianjiang, China -- Following a long five-hour bus ride, we arrived in Qianjiang. We had a chance to have a shootaround as normal and the arena is nice. We have been having packed houses each night and tonight was no exception, somewhere around 4,000. The thing about a trip like this is that you play in cities where there are no pro teams, so when something like this comes around it is a big deal. Tonight may have been the biggest shindig that we have had so far. They had an hour of pregame with dancing, singing, and martial arts. It was a great show. The game was another tough one as we lost 84-80. We just could not hit anything all night and the Bayi team went 10-13 in the fourth quarter. But a lot of good things are happening and I will be looking forward to sharing them later.
Reach USA came out fast and built a 10-0 lead but could not sustain the start as the Bayi Rockets edged the visitors 84-80 before a packed house. The USA team held a six-point lead at the end of the first but saw that dwindle to one at half. Bayi turned the tables and grabbed a one-point lead after three. But the first eight minutes was all the Chinese bunch as they built up a 13-point lead. They were 10-of-13 from the field in the quarter and seemed to have things in hand when finally Reach began to hit a few shots and cut the lead to four with 25 seconds. That would be as close as they would get.
May 20, 2010 - Game 4
Pengshui, China -- "And a great day was had by all" was a phrase that was common in my hometown paper. I would use that one for today since it was a great day. The guys got to sleep in until 10:30 a.m. and we only had an hour bus ride. We are staying in a great hotel and the food was out of this world. At the game, we played real hard and battled through some real adversity (see game recap) and came away with a 76-67 win over Bayi to tie the series at 2-2. The place was a smaller arena holding about 2,000. But there were people all over the place and after the game we had a great time doing pictures and autographs with people.
Reach USA 76, Bayi Rockets 67
In a repeat of last night, the Reach team jumped out to an early lead, by as much as 11 in the first quarter and held a nine-point lead at half. The third quarter took a big turn as Bayi was 13-of-16 from the free-throw line and cut the lead to one. But a stubborn Reach team would not be denied and held on for a 76-67 win.
May 22, 2010 - Game 5
Reach USA 78, Bayi 77
In a seasaw affair that came down to three free throws with no time on the clock, Reach USA managed to edge out the Bayi Rockets 78-77 to take a 3-2 lead in the series. Both teams held leads of eight or more in the game but could not hold off their foe. The Reach team had a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter only to see the score tied at the end of the second and third stanzas. The U.S. team had an 11-point lead with six minutes to go, but failure to hit free throws in the last four minutes, going 3-of-8, allowed Bayi to take a three-point lead with less than two to go. After cutting the lead to one on a Malik Story bucket, following a stop, Reach missed a jumper but Josh Harrellson muscled away a steal and scored to put Reach up by one. Again a missed shot by the Chinese team put Reach in a position with under a minute to stretch the lead. However, a missed shot set the stage for another tough ending for the visitors. But, a steal by Peyton Siva and a score put the game at 78-77. The U.S. group tried to foul but waited too long and fouled on a three at the buzzer. The Chinese player missed the first which assured a hard fought win.
May 23, 2010 - Game 6
Yes, there is a game seven somewhere. While the NBA seems to be lacking in the seven-game exciting series finale, Reach USA and Bayi will get it on in game seven of their series as a result of an 88-81 Bayi win in game six.
Reach USA jumped out to a 9-2 lead early as a result of Carlton Fay's hot start. hitting seven of the first nine shots. They could only hold on to a three-point lead at the end of one and Bayi fought back to tie the score 38 at half. Bayi came out hot and outscored the U.S. squad 12-1 and built up a 14-point lead and led by eight at the end of three. Reach was able to cut the lead down to 3 with 1:30 to go but missed a three to tie and could not get closer.
Box score only - Combined Box Scores
Reach US 98, Russian Peak All Stars 78
Trailing early, but taking the lead at the 4:16 mark, Reach USA jumped on the Russian Peak All Stars 98-78. The Russian team is made up of 12 all-stars from the pro leagues in Russia that are on an eight-game tour. They were 2-0 coming into tonight's contest.
Reach put together a complete game with four guys in double figures led by Carlton Fay with 21; Josh Harrellson added 13 and Peyton Siva along with Skylar McBee tossed in 12. Harrellson grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds while Siva joined the double-double night with 11 assists.
Reach USA 70, Russia Peak All Stars 69
Trailing by one with 3.4 seconds to go, Peyton Siva went coast-to-coast for a twisting layup game winner over the 7-foot-4 Russian as Reach USA pulled out a thrilling 70-69 win over the Russia Peak All Stars.
In a game that was sloppy from the outset, the Russian team controlled the tempo with their size and ability to get to the offensive glass. The upset was in the making as the Reach team could not hit anything from the field and was in foul trouble much of the game. With 5:45 to go the Russians led by five but the U.S. team battled back to take a one-point lead. Carlton Fay then hit 1-of-2 free throws to give Reach a two-point edge. With five seconds on the clock, a last-ditch shot stuck between the rim and backboard and Peak had possession. On the inbounds play, a lob to the 7-foot-4 big man found the bottom of the net and Reach fouled. After a made free throw with 3.4 seconds to go, the stage was set for Siva's fantastic finish. Driving through two defenders, he used his bottom to shield the big Russian and kissed it off the glass for the winner. Siva led the winners with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists. Josh Harrellson was the only other Reach member in double figures with 11. Reach USA closes the trip with a 6-3 record.