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[Interview] Xu Meng, USP Basketball Team Captain

In this opportunity, The Ridge has had the pleasure of interviewing Xu Meng, the captain for the University Scholars Programme (USP) team in the 2014 Inter-Collegiate Games (ICG).

Xu Meng played for the River Valley basketball team from his Secondary Three days to when he was in JC Two. He has started training with the NUS Team since joining NUS last year, and wants to formally join the team this year and represent the school to play in the Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) Games. He is currently pursuing an Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) and Business Double Degree.

To begin with, how do you find the overall ICG experience? 

It is definitely an enriching experience. The ICG experience is not only about the fighting experience during matches, but also the bonding and friendship we make along the way. I really enjoy it a lot and I think if possible I will definitely participate again next year!

What’s your team’s offence and defense? What’s your role on the court?  

I think I am really lucky to have the opportunity to play with my great teammates! Defense is our focus and we have practiced defense a lot and the improvement is huge during these few weeks. We also play great offence, especially pick and roll. We share the ball, pass the ball to the open guy and help each other to create shooting opportunity.

In the team, I am half coach and half player. On the court, I think my role is to distribute the ball well so that every play is effective and smart. I also remind the team on things like rebounds.

Can you tell us more about the dispute between USP and Yale-NUS, i.e. the IVP player controversy and how it was resolved? It was a big thing that also affected other sports. What’s your opinion on this issue? 

Well, I think the dispute is no big deal actually. When both teams want to win the game, dispute arises. I think both Yale-NUS and USP were very mature and solved this problem properly. We leave anything on the court and in fact, we are good friends after the match.

As for the IVP issue, I understand that IVP is not allowed to play so that ICG can encourage more players to play and participate. However, reality may not be as ideal as planned. In fact, from what I know, many exchange students are also school players in their home school. Therefore, personally, I don’t think why we have to ban the IVP players and even IFG (Inter-Faculty Games) allows IVP players to play so maybe we could relax on this rule.

Even during the group stage, there have been trash talks on the floor. Especially that episode between Yale-NUS’s captain and you, and I heard he said he would beat you after the game. What was that all about? 

I was not in good condition that day. Therefore, I wasn’t paying enough attention to what he said to me. I think trash talks on the floor are also very common. NBA players do that every day and we should not take it seriously. I think it is just part of the game. We use basketball to solve the problem.

The Final between USP and Yale-NUS, which is the better team? It was a really tough fight, and you went for the three-point tie. Maybe you can tell us more about that last play?

Well, it was really a good fight and I think my teammates and Yale-NUS were all exhausted. Therefore, I chose to make a last three-point. We did not have much time so that once I got the ball I decided to shoot by myself. The opponent did a good defense for that ball so that I was not in a good position when I shot. It was pretty close but I still missed it. It made it hard to sleep that night. I was quite guilty about that. If given one more chance, I should be able to make it!

What are your goals in terms of basketball in NUS?

Haha, I want to help NUS become IVP champions.

Who are you basketball heroes? 

Iverson. He has a fighting spirit and a heart of a giant.

Are your heroes in life the same as your basketball heroes? 

I watch Slam Dunk tens of times already. Mitsui Hisashi in that comic is one of my heroes in life. I think basketball teaches me a lot. In that comic, he teaches me friendship, perseverance, teamwork and many other important qualities in life.

Which teams do you see reaching the Finals in NBA this year? 

I want San Antonio Spurs to win.

Name your favorite team, player, and coach in NBA?

San Antonio Spurs, Kobe Bryant and Gregg Popovich.

Besides NBA, are there other basketball leagues that you watch too? 

CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) haha.

Looking at the hundreds of players on the SRC court week in and week out, what advice do you have for them to work on their games? 

Don’t get injured and no brother no basketball!