A Guide To Basketball In Hong Kong

When it comes to sports in Hong Kong, football and rugby are not the only sports that the locals are fond of. Basketball is a strong contender among the most popular sports in Hong Kong and remains a favourite for a large part of the local population.

It is not easy getting a ticket to basketball games in Hong Kong. The local derby between Winling and South China is one of the most popular and anticipated events of the year, and locals queue up in throngs to attend the game.

Hong Kong may not be one of the most successful basketball-playing nations, but the sport is enjoyed massively by the locals and played extensively. Let’s have a look at basketball in Hong Kong, including its history, evolution over the years, and where it stands today.

History of Basketball in Hong Kong

Basketball may not match football or rugby in terms of popularity, but it is right on par with these prominent sports when it comes to the history of the sport in Hong Kong. While the introduction of most contemporary sports in the region can be attributed to the British colonists, basketball was introduced by American missionaries.

Members of the Young Men’s Christian Association, who had settled along the treaty ports in the late nineteenth century, played an important role in familiarising the locals with the game and popularising it across the region. Soon locals in different parts of the city were also playing the sport, particularly the youngsters.

Ying Wa College and Queen’s College were among the first institutions in Hong Kong to install proper basketball courts, and soon other educational institutions followed suit. In 1919, the first league tournament was launched, and South China developed its basketball team.

Basketball gained more popularity after World War II, particularly after the establishment of the Hong Kong Basketball Association in 1957. Soon interest in basketball increased, and local games attracted thousands of spectators.

Read on to learn about Hong Kong’s performance in international basketball and the status of the sport at the domestic level.

Hong Kong National Basketball Team

The Hong Kong Basketball Association is responsible for managing the affairs of the national basketball team for men and women. The association became a member of FIBA in 1957, and the men’s national basketball team has been playing internationally since then.

The basketball team has played twenty-seven times in the FIBA Asia Cup and eight times in the Asian Games; however, without any noticeable achievement. The men’s team is currently in 112th place in the FIBA rankings.

Hong Kong has the third-highest number of appearances in the FIBA Asia Cup alongside the Philippines. The national team’s frequent appearances in the Asia Cup are a major reason for the popularity of basketball in Hong Kong. It also hosted the Asian Basketball Championship in 1983.

The women’s national basketball team is ranked 103rd in the FIBA rankings. The team has played in the FIBA World Cup to date but has played in the FIBA Asia Championship for Women twenty-two times.

Besides the men’s and women’s national teams, Under-19 and Under-17 teams have represented Hong Kong internationally in Asian Championships. Moreover, the men’s national 3×3 team represents Hong Kong internationally. The team has played in the FIBA Asia 3×3 Cup twice, in 2013 and 2018.

Domestic Basketball in Hong Kong

Basketball is also played extensively at the domestic level in Hong Kong. There are numerous basketball clubs playing actively in the region. The Hong Kong A1 (HKA1) Division Championship is the top men’s basketball league in Hong Kong.

The league was founded in 1954 and currently has ten teams. The current champion and the team with the most wins in the HKA1 is South China, winning the title thirteen times. The team, founded in 1932, is one of the oldest in Hong Kong.

Besides the basketball league, Hong Kong Eastern basketball club represents the city in the ASEAN Basketball League. Like Hong Kong, Eastern was also established in 1932. Domestic basketball suffered significantly in the 1990s when the government put a ban on hiring foreign players. Newly formed clubs like Regal that won the ABC Championship in 1997, and Seapower suffered a great deal, and slowly public interest began to dwindle.

In recent years, the government has tried to improve the city’s infrastructure, improved public playing places, and basketball gradually became a favourite pastime among the locals. Unlike football and rugby, basketball courts are smaller and can fit in a residential area, in courtyards, on spare lands, or even on rooftops, which led to an increase in the trend of playing the sport, and today, it is one of the most loved leisure sports in Hong Kong.

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