It started as just another boring day, with a bunch of young kids walking in the park, joking around as usual, but later down the road, it would become a day that had been destined to be a turning point for Wu Sung Wei in his basketball career.
Mr. Peng, Wu’s first basketball coach with little to no fanciness in his basketball background took up a challenge and asked that same group of kids to stay back and take part in learning and playing the sport after school every day.
The Taiwanese guard looks back and recalls the memory.
“That was my first time playing basketball, and I immediately realized I had fallen in love with it,” says Wu in his native Mandarin tongue.
“Coach Peng introduced me to basketball. He, without question, is one of the most passionate basketball fans I’ve ever seen.”
Delving deeper into the importance of his first coach on his career, the 24-year-old offers further insight into Mr. Peng, stating, “He is so passionate that he will spend hours out of his day just to study every possible training routine from the internet, taking on the challenge of coaching us on a daily basis after school.”
In order to improve their shooting accuracy, coach Peng ordered a specialized basketball hoop, one which had another 40 centimeter hoop within it. Attempting to master the obstacle proved to be a difficult challenge for Wu and his friends, but it also helped strengthen the group’s camaraderie as they conquered it together as a team. Now a dead-eye three-point specialist for the Formosa Dreamer, it could be easy to say that Wu developed his stellar shooting ability from that very hurdle.
As an outstanding shooter that has just about received every other ABL team’s attention when going up against the Dreamers, the 6’0” Taiwanese local is currently converting 52 percent of his long balls. However, lost in his marksmanship is his underrated ability as a defender.
“I have to be able to contribute not just at the perimeter line, but in other various ways that include assisting my teammates and scoring inside.”
Wu is also averaging just about a steal per contest, most recently robbing three against the Singapore Slingers, a high-disciplined team that prides itself on taking care of the rock.
“I really just try to do my best when I get called onto the court every time, and I still have a lot to work on this coming offseason.”
While he continues to deliver on great shooting performances, there have been multiple teams that have already began scouting him, putting a greater emphasis on preventing Wu from even touching the ball, a strategy that has bothered him in recent games.
“I have to be able to contribute not just at the perimeter line, but in other various ways that include assisting my teammates and scoring inside. Additionally, I will hit the weight room more regularly, just to be an even better defender next season.”
Though the idea seems simple, his determination and desire to better his craft is all apparent. He’s already prepared to leave lasting footprints in the ABL for seasons to come, even describing his learning model to be similar to that of another sharpshooter: Hong Kong Eastern’s Lee Ki.
“I think we both share a lot of similarities. Players who can shoot and defend the ball. I really hope I can develop myself to be like him. Hopefully soon.”
Wu does make a good observation here, as the comparison between these two 3-and-D type players isn’t too farfetched. Overall, Lee Ki does possess slightly better statistical outputs, but for starters, he is an experienced veteran who plays in a well-designed system. The Eastern guard also doesn’t settle for the present, as he still goes for early morning workouts even before the team’s practice every single day. Following his road to success, putting in the extra effort in self-development opens up the opportunity and likelihood to be just as influential as an import, and Lee Ki is a fine example of it.
With that mentality, there’s no reason to not believe that Wu Sung Wei can be just as great as Lee Ki, or perhaps, even better, given the stage he is at in his young career. At just 24 years old, Wu is already experiencing an intense professional basketball league, having to face off against some of the best guards in the region.
“The ABL is a great opportunity for me in realizing how big of a gap there is between us and the others, but I would also love to personally thank Blackie [Chen] for giving me this opportunity earlier in the season.”
The regional league offers a completely different and a unique experience for the Taiwanese locals bunch for a myriad of reasons. Most of them weren’t used to playing in a home-away format their entire life, as most of their high school and university games were played in several well-known courts around the country.
“We, the locals, have to take care of the ball well, and drill the open shots as much as possible to prove our value to the team.”
Apart from that, the ABL requires a plethora of travel time, having to go from country-to-country, which includes plenty of unseen transitional hours which can be taxing. Wu acknowledges that many of the players were “very frustrated” at the beginning, but now, they’ve all started to embrace it as another step in their young professional careers.
When sharing the team’s transition from “nobodies” to professional basketball players, Wu laughs and offers, “It took us a lot of time to adapt to the league. We were never used to such long hours in having to travel just to play one game, then sometimes having to fly back to Taiwan right after the game.”
I asked him what would be his single most valuable lesson he could take away from his debut professional season, he gave an answer that might catch people off guard, at least for me it was, for being technically correct.
“The ABL is still an imports-oriented league, so it gives very little room for the locals to make any mistakes. We, the locals, have to take care of the ball well, and drill the open shots as much as possible to prove our value to the team.”
Excuse him for brutally honest, but it really is the truth no matter how you look at it, as the teams that are able to attain superior imports do have the greatest chances to win an ABL championship. Nevertheless, Wu once again expressed his utmost gratitude for being a part of such a special journey.
“I experienced a lot of thing that I never expected I would, but the Dreamers and the ABL make all of these possible, so I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.”
Many non-Chinese readers may not realize how big of a figure Black Chen is in the Chinese market, especially in places like Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. During the team’s visit to MABA stadium in Kuala Lumpur, the Formosa Dreamers co-founder posted about his arrival in Malaysia, calling for local fans to come out and enjoy the game. Lo and behold, the tickets for the match-up were sold out for the first time ever in Westports Malaysia Dragons history, as far as regular season games go.
During that game, Wu had another impressive showing, connecting on four of his five deep balls, and finishing with 13 points.
“I loved the time when we traveled to Malaysia. I was so surprised at how many fans we have in Malaysia and literally, all of them came to take photos with us after the game.”
Something that many fans may not know is that Wu actually comes from a very tough background, one which only left him and his grandmother to live alongside one another. Learning of this from him left me stunned for a few seconds, and I just felt the need to share his story.
“My grandmother has been a very sad figure most of her life. Her husband was very violent to her until his death. Then she was left with a son and daughter, but tragedy struck once again with my aunt’s passing at a young age due to an accident.”
“it was like a way for me to tell her ‘I’m doing well now. You don’t have to worry about me anymore. It’s finally my turn to take care of you.’”
With such a somber tone, it was hard not feel for him, as I could clearly feel his emotion and strength in fighting back tears while sharing such a story.
“We live together and take care of each other. I love her from the bottom of my heart. She deserves better than what she has been through, so she is my greatest motivation in my basketball career. If it wasn’t for her, there would be no Wu Sung Wei talking to you.”
In the Dreamers’ latest home game, the team set a “Family-day” theme, where players had the opportunity to hold their family members hand while being introduced during pre-game festivities. Wu offered a glimpse into his world of emotions in that very moment.
“It meant the world to me, knowing that I could hold my grandmother’s hand and enter the game. She wasn’t able to come to most of my games because she still has to work, but being able to enter the game with her, it was like a way for me to tell her ‘I’m doing well now. You don’t have to worry about me anymore. It’s finally my turn to take care of you.’”
I was completely touched and moved by his story. It serves as a reminder to many of us, myself included, of how blessed we are to be able to stay alongside our parents and loved ones, and to be able to love and take care of them. Wu may be a one of the smaller guys among all the giants on the court, but as a player who is filled with an extraordinary level of power and love, it’s something that will continue to motivate him in his young basketball career.
Pass him the ball and wait for the splash of the net, because Wu is in the house, and here to stay.
Fun Fact: Wu is also taking a MBA program while pursuing his basketball dream, he would be officially graduate by the end of May.