22 - 31
July 2016
2 Kuo-Hao Kao (TPE)
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Kao excited about Chinese Taipei debut after meeting Jordan, Yao Ming

TEHRAN (2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship) - It's been a whirlwind 16 months for Kao Kuo-Hao. The Chinese Taipei guard went from shaking hands with Michael Jordan to meeting Yao Ming to making his international debut at the 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship. Now, Kao is hoping this month finishes with a berth at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championship. 

Kao has shined in his first action for the Chinese Taipei, averaging 16.5 points, 5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.0 steals as the team has started the FIBA Asia U18s with a 3-1 record. 

"I am excited indeed about making my debut," said Kao, who will turn 18 years old in September. "I'm so proud of myself for being selected into the Chinese Taipei national team. Hopefully we can win for our country."

Chinese Taipei have missed out on the last two U19 Worlds and a spot at the biennial tournament is a major goal for the team. When asked how important qualification for Cairo 2017 is, Kao answered: "Both to earn the pride of my country and let the world know me."

The world has certainly gotten to know more of the lightning quick guard over the past two springs. In April 2015, Kao participated in the Jordan Brand Classic International Game with many of the top 1998 and 1999-born players around the world. He picked up 6 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in the game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 

"A big memory was standing on that court and playing with the best players," Kao said. "The other was shaking hands with Michael Jordan."

Kao then met Chinese legend Yao Ming at the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp this past February as part of the NBA All-Star weekend in Toronto. The 1.78m guard said the weekend of drills and workouts was very helpful. 

"The coaches there taught us lots of skills. It really helps and makes me a better player," Kao said. "And the most impressive thing about Yao was that his hands are so huge. He is the tallest guy I’ve ever met."

Kao now looks to use the lessons he has learned in the last two spring times to be a leader for the team in Tehran. He poured in 16 points in Chinese Taipei's first victory of the campaign against Philippines, arguably the third best team in Group A behind themselves and China. 

"The victory raised every player's confidence. And we knew 'the first' game would be tough. Fortunately we won it," he said.

Chinese Taipei followed that win up with victories over Thailand and India. Then after a day off, Kao poured in 27 points with 4 assists against China but it wasn't enough as the reigning champs came back to win 74-71 - despite Chinese Taipei leading by 16 points in the third quarter. Chinese Taipei's final group phase contest will be against Iraq. 

"We have played excellent so far, but there are still some problems that we need to improve," Kao said. "We need to correct our disadvantages and also make our advantages better than before. The primary part is 'challenge'. We want to challenge ourselves."

Chinese Taipei have reached the second step on the FIBA Asia U18 podium twice - in 1974 (as Taiwan) and 1989 - to go with four third placed finishes - the most recent in 2010. But that doesn't mean the country is going for the top step. 

"I know it will be hard to win the trophy, but we'll try our best to struggle for it," Kao said. 

That would make for an even more whirlwind past 16 months.