The coach of the Japan U-18 Select girls basketball team wanted to put his players to the test by bringing them to Canada.
â€œI want to give them a chance to play against a tall player in Canada,â€ coach Tatushi Isshiki said through a translator.
The team is prepping for the Asian Games and the three-game series against Team BC Selects offered other benefits.
â€œThe reason why we are here is to improve each game,â€ he said.
So he used all the squad so they could be exposed to a different style of ball in another culture.
His players are high school students ages 16-18. They played Team BC to a 71-62 win on April 2 with Team BC taking game 2 with 71-67. Game 3 is Saturday at UBC.
â€œWe have to improve defensively,â€ Isshiki said about the two days between games.
That wonâ€™t leave the teens much time to be sightseeing but he said theyâ€™ve taken a shine to one aspect of Canada.
â€œThe food is great,â€ he said.
Langleyâ€™s Tayla Jackson is on the Selects, and was flattered when asked to join the group of young women from high schools and universities.
â€œI thought it would be a great experience because I was able to play with girls I look up to at the university level,â€ she said.
The Grade 12 student at Brookswood Secondary plays forward. (Trinity Western Universityâ€™s Chantelle Martin and Kayla Gordon are also on the team.)
Jackson said the first game was a little rough. Team BC only has four practices before taking on the visitors.
â€œItâ€™s very scrambly at times but itâ€™s good,â€™ Jackson said. â€œIt makes us think on our feet. Weâ€™ve gotta make quick decisions, so itâ€™s a big learning experience for us.â€
The Selects gelled better for the second meeting.
â€œItâ€™s very fast paced, a very physical game. Iâ€™ve never played at the international level before so itâ€™s pretty cool.
The games are a challenge but Jackson sees the benefits, especially since she plans to continue playing basketball into university.
Game 3 is April 5 at UBC. Admission to the games has been a donation to KidsSportBC.