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01 - 31
July 2022
3 Mingxuan Hu (CHN)
Long Read
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"Pepper Boy" Hu Mingxuan provides spice for promising young China squad

BEIJING (China) - The origination of a nickname for a player is always fascinating, especially when it perfectly works out as said player progresses in their careers.

Take China's rising talent, Hu Mingxuan, for example.

Hu plays professionally in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Guangdong Southern Tigers and the fans of the team were quick to find a way to play around with his fiery style of play. They took the Chinese word for pepper - Hu Jiao (胡椒) - and immediately connected that as a pun of the youngsters last name, Hu.

Thus, 胡椒仔 (Hu Jiao Zi) or "Pepper Boy" was dubbed.

In the early stages of his career, Hu might have only provided some prickly heat off the bench here and there. However, as time has progressed, his game continues to spice up to higher levels.

While Hu's career is definitely a cultivation of his efforts and work ethic, the spiciness in his game is also a product of the grooming and developing done by current national team head coach Du Feng.

Seeing Du Feng roam the sidelines as the coach for China might not have been a common sight for the regular Asia Cup fan, but it was all too familiar for Hu Mingxuan. The 23-year-old is used to coach Feng's icy stares playing for him with Team China and with the Southern Tigers. Having that long term relationship makes it easy for Hu to pick up many things from the national team legend, allowing him to develop his game in a similar manner.

"His style is being a tough coach, that's his character," said Hu of coach Du. "So what I learned, what has impacted my game, is because of his tough style of coaching, I actually put the same style of toughness on both ends - defense and offense."

"Another thing is that he's actually a coach who focuses on the little things. He is very patient with the players, especially the younger players learning under his coaching. This is actually the things which I also bring to my game, focusing on details and trying to be patient now and then."

There's no surprise that Hu speaks of his coach with much respect. After all, coach Du was a major part of the turning point in Hu's career.

Basketball started out as a weekend activity between Hu and his father, natives of the Xinjiang province. However, his focus on the sport took a serious turn when the youngster attended a certain basketball clinic headed by a well-respected coach who is also a native of Xinjiang.

"What happened that made me eventually fall in love with basketball was the time when I was 6th grade in the elementary school and I got the opportunity to attend coach Du Feng's coaching clinic at the time," Hu revealed.

"He took me to the Guangdong club and from there I began to start my career path as a basketball player. From having a hobby and turning it into a career is fortunate, though there's also a lot of difficult moments you have to overcome."

Hu has just recently gone through one of those difficult moments in his career. It's been a trying stretch over the past few weeks playing for China after playing in the Philippines for the Asia Cup Qualifiers before heading straight to Canada for the OQT.

The team were able to go through all of their games in the Philippines bubble without a loss, even going up against a determined and talented Japan national team. Hu was among the team's leading scorers with 10.3 points per game and they flew out of Asia filled with confidence.

When they landed in Victoria for the OQT, they then had to face hosts Canada and Greece. Both games resulted in defeat, but the young talents of China flashed potential like Hu who averaged 20.0 points across both games.

Through all the wins leading to success and disappointment from the losses, it's been a valuable learning period for Hu and this young China squad.

"The roster on this current team China is the younger generation," he said.

"And it's also the first time attending for these big international games, so compared with other teams, you can actually see that we are lacking the game experience at the international level. However, for myself as part of this squad now, what we need to do is to find out what we need to improve for the next tournament through the games."

"Generally, I think we still have a lot of room to improve."

Only time will tell how much room there is left to fill in for the potential of these youthful prospects like Hu, but the future looks bright and "Pepper Boy" looks like he's ready to cook up some spicy performances when the time comes.