A National Asian Hoops Title
Wednesday - December 12, 2007
When John Lane was a teenager, he walked away from playing basketball for his high school team, but Lane never walked away from the game. In fact, he embraced it.
“It’s the perfect sport,” he says. “It’s about power and speed and ingenuity and playing smart. It’s about individual skills and taking them and making the perfect blend.”
Lane showcased his individual skills on playgrounds and gym floors around Oahu. Despite not playing varsity high school ball, he earned an opportunity to play at Chaminade University a few years back. Unfortunately, that college dream ended after one red-shirt season.
But Lane never stopped dreaming about playing the game he loved at the highest level he could. A point guard with uncanny shooting skills, he rapidly became known as one of the top players in local pick-up games. Lane was truly what some might call a gym rat, and he took the game seriously. If there was court or a gym or a tournament or a local league, you could probably find Lane somewhere around. He had an uncanny ability to always be in the toughest game with the best players, and with most of the focus staring directly at him.
I’ve played against Lane a number of time over the years and am always amazed at his ability to create shots, his competitiveness and his willingness to take on anybody. I vividly recall a particular epic pick-up contest in UH’s Klum Gym, when Lane took on UH Rainbow all-star Justice Sueing.
The game was 5-on-5, but all eyes were on the 1-on-1 battle between Sueing, a 6-foot-7-inch forward whose leaping ability was matched only by the fierceness of his flying elbows, and Lane, a 5-foot-9-inch point guard with a spectacularly quick first step, an in-your face jump shot and a machismo to back it up.
How the battle didn’t come to blows, I don’t know. But I do know that Lane won. He was - and still is - that kind of player.
Several years later, Lane is now 29 years old and working for Oahu Realty, but his competitiveness on the basketball court has never waned. Several months ago, the young hoop star who is always looking for a game found another one. And this one would lead to a chance for a national title.
Lane put together an unlikely group of stars and created a team that would go to Las Vegas in September and win the Asian-American National Championships.
“I’m part-Caucasian and part-Japanese,” he says. “We were the no-name team that came from nowhere and we beat everybody.”
Lane’s unlikely group of hoop heroes included former 6-foot-9-inch Leandro Morioka, a former HPU star, and former UH volleyball star Gavin Cook, who Lane calls “our Dennis Rodman. We converted him from volleyball and he was our rubbish man, tipping in everything around the basket.” The Hawaii starting five also included former Kalani High standout Everett Frye, one of the highest scoring players in recent OIA basketball history, plus former Kamehameha Schools star Kekoa Ng, who helped lead the Warriors to a state title in the 1990s. Both Morioka, who is half-Brazilian and half-Japanese, and Lane made first team all-tournament in the 10-team field of teams from around the nation, and Lane was named the tour-nament’s Most Outstanding Player.
“Hawaii has such a large Asian population, but we had never taken part in this tournament before,” Lane says. “After we won there, all the teams wanted to know about the basketball here and wanted to come here.”
That gave Lane an idea - to create a similar tournament in Hawaii. He hopes to bring in teams this next August from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and Atlanta, as well as Japan, South Korea, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Malaysia. “We’ve sent out invitations to the top 50 Asian-based teams,” he says. “This is a chance for us to play at the highest-level of basketball.”
Lane says one of his biggest challenges is finding a local sponsor. He says that other Asian-American teams are well-financed. “They research, they scout, they travel all over,” he says. “They also play smart and play with heart. They have such a passion for the game.”
Lane says his Hawaii team has received offers of sponsorships from a New York company, but “that means we’re playing for New York. I want to play for Hawaii.”
John Lane’s passion for basketball continues. You think you’ve got game? Give him a call. You think you can help support his Hawaii team? Definitely give him a call. His number is 391-5646.
It’s all about the love of the game.
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