Arizona State, Colorado set to make history in 2019 Pac-12 China Game
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When Arizona State and Colorado step on the floor in Shanghai on Nov. 9 (Nov. 8 back in the United States), they will be partaking in a Pac-12 first. While the Pac-12 became the first American sports league to host a regular-season contest in China when Washington played Texas in 2015, this year’s Arizona State-Colorado Pac-12 China Game will mark the first time in Pac-12 history that two Pac-12 basketball teams will play each other on foreign soil.
Ahead of today’s tipoff in Shanghai, The Pac-12 announced that @SunDevilHoops and @CUBuffsMBB will meet in 2019 in the fifth edition of the #Pac12ChinaGame presented by @AlibabaGroup and co-hosted by Federation of University Sports of China. Read more: https://t.co/Oy3kbr1vjo pic.twitter.com/S7wcL3VwBD
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) November 10, 2018
“I’m excited. None of our players have been to China. None of our staff have been to China,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said at 2019 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day. “It’s going to be a great opportunity to experience a different country, a different culture.”
While it doesn’t count for the team’s conference records, it’s still going to be a tough challenge to start off the season on the other side of the world going up against a high-level opponent. Add in the time lost with traveling that far, the intensity has only ramped up in the lead up to the 2019-20 season opener for these teams.
“There’s a little more urgency in our practices, just trying to get our system in place more and throwing more at our players to really hopefully retain what we need to get done,” Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley said. “We can’t afford to lose days. We’ve just got to make sure we’re productive every day.”
While this is the first time it has happened in basketball, Pac-12 teams played three football games in the 1980’s in Japan – USC defeated Oregon 20-6 in 1985, Stanford beat Arizona 29-24 in 1986 and California and Washington State tied 17-17 in 1987.
Among the many sightseeing and cultural activities that the Sun Devils and Buffs get to participate in while in China, Disneyland was mentioned as a place both Colorado guard McKinley Wright IV and Arizona State guard Remy Martin are looking forward to visiting.
“China is an experience that not many people can have. You get to go to China. You get to see a whole new world, and I think that’s awesome,” Martin said.
It figures to be a great cultural experience for all involved as it has been in the past for Washington in 2015, Stanford in 2016, UCLA in 2017 and Cal in 2018, the end goal is to get a W and enjoy the long flight home.
“Obviously playing a great team like Colorado, as a competitor, I’m ready for that,” Martin said. “I really want to play them.”
“We’re going to play a heck of an Arizona State team. You look at Bobby [Hurley’s] teams and what they’ve done in the month of November, it’s pretty special,” Boyle said. “The one thing we know about Arizona State is they’re going to be ready to go. We’ve got to be ready to go ourselves.”