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BWB Global Camper Cui Yongxi inspired by ''Mamba Mentality''
CHICAGO (USA) - Cui Yongxi, or Jacky, had the time of his life as a part of the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp 2020 in Chicago during the NBA All-Star Weekend.
He was one of the 64 selected prospects from 30 countries, which was important for Cui as he was representing something bigger than just himself.
"It was great. I feel a great sense of national pride," he said about the experience. "I was representing China in the BWB. I trained very hard to prove myself."
Not only did Cui get to represent China, but he was also able to meet and interact with other promising players from all over the world. He knows that each and everyone one of them has worked hard to make it to that stage, but there's still more work to do to get to their primary goals.
"In BWB, I met Kai Sotto from the Philippines. People call him the future of the Philippines. He played well, but we all still need to work on our game."
The young shooter did his country proud in the event, as he hopes to continue to do further on down the road in his basketball career. More than the experience as a rising prospect in Asia, Cui got to be a fan and enjoy the game simply.
"I made the three-point contest final [at the event], and I felt everything paid off at that time," Cui said, retelling memorable instances of the weekend. "Another stand out moment was the All-Star game since that was my first-time All-Star game experience."
Cui, who will be 17 in a few months, has been a part of the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia, and has worked hard to progress to where he is right now. Surround by people of common interest at the academy, Cui has grown on and off the court.
"It's like a family here," Cui said. "Everyone here is so passionate about basketball, as well as the coaches. They are very devoted and care about your growth, not just the performance on the court."
"My teammates and I love that Jacky has confidence in himself. Right now, he is learning English and getting better at it, but he is never shy and likes to talk and smile to everyone," said Aly Khalifa, a fellow member of the NBA Global Academy and a star on the youth Egypt national team.
"Also, Jacky brought energy to us on the court, and teaches us about Chinese culture, like the food and language. He's a funny guy!"
Basketball has always been a part of Cui's life. He aims for the sport to be an even larger part of life down the road. Looking down the road five years from now, Cui says he is training for the opportunity to play high school basketball and NCAA basketball in the USA before getting a shot at the NBA or the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). No matter where his path will lead, Cui knows what he has to do.
"At the end of the day, I have to work hard, and I think everything will pay off."
It's a driven mentality that Cui has taken to heart, inspired by some of his childhood idols. From spectating courtside to watching through the television screen, Cui has had some positive inspirations to admire throughout his youth.
"I started playing because of my father, who is well-known as the best grassroots baller in our province. I've watched him play since I was young," he explained. "However, I didn't fall in love with the game until the 4th grade in elementary school when I saw Kobe making a buzzer-beater. It was in 2009, the Lakers played against the Heat, and the last shot of Kobe shocked me."
"I don't know why, but I have always felt passionate when I play since then."
Like many others in his generation, Kobe Bryant was a hero for Cui. Just like many in the basketball circle around the world, Kobe's loss took a hard toll on Cui as well.
"Kobe is my idol who inspired me to keep improving myself. I was supposed to see him during BWB this year, but as we all knew, he had a terrible accident right before the campaign."
"I was having a meal with my family, and when my father told me that Kobe passed away, I was so numb right away. I couldn't believe it was real. Then I ran to the rooftop and did nothing but cry for about 2 hours."
That "Mamba Mentality" will continue to live on with Cui Yongxi as he continues his path in the basketball world. However, the youngster also looks up to some other role models in his journey to becoming an even better basketball player.
"In China, I would say [I look up to] Yi Jianlian. In the NBA, I also like Tim Duncan," Cui listed. "Yi Jianlian, TD, and Kawhi [Leonard] are very low-key, but always focused on their games. That is something I would like to follow in their footsteps."
"Also, Wang Zhizhi," he added. "His shooting is very good, and I learned a lot from him."
Cui Yongxi is another piece in the bright future of China basketball. He'll only continue to get better from his experiences, whether from the BWB Global Camp or his time with the NBA Global Academy.
However, it's more than merely his on-court talents than make him an intriguing player for China in the future. It's also Cui Yongxi's collection of mentalities inspired by his idols from his father to the late Kobe Bryant to Tim Duncan and Yi Jianlian that seem to raise the level of his potential.