Culture on the court: South Tahoe basketball hosts DBL Indonesia, continues cross-cultural partnership
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The South Tahoe boys and girls basketball teams took the court against Indonesian opposition for scrimmages at the Blue Gym on Thursday, Nov. 12. The visit from Developmental Basketball League Indonesia was more about culture than crossovers.
“It’s much bigger than basketball — It’s really about the cultural divide that we share between our two countries,” Vikings boys coach Joby Cefalu said. “The kids always take a great deal from it and they love it.”
DBL Indonesia visited South Tahoe for the third straight year, and brought 23 boys and girls players to the South Lake Tahoe campus last Thursday. Each of the players were matched up with a Vikings counterpart, and the day concluded with basketball exhibitions between STHS and the top high school basketball players from Indonesia.
“To have the honor to host them at our school is great and the kids absolutely love it,” Cefalu said. “It’s allowing our kids and their kids to make a connection with someone from halfway around the world. The game of basketball is the same, but they can see how different life is and the cultural differences.”
South Tahoe started the tradition of hosting DBL Indonesia two years ago as part of a partnership with the Sacramento Kings. Mo Brazelton connected Cefalu with the Kings’ Scott Freshour and it proceeded forward when the organization brought the players to America.
“It’s a tradition that we hope to continue to honor,” Cefalu said.
The foreign players toured South Tahoe’s campus during the visit, including the dental lab and theater arts building — when the Indonesian coaching staff saw the Smart Boards in a math classroom, they jokingly asked if they were in the year 2150. Looking out from the campus’ Stadium View building, the DBL players also got their first glimpses of snow.
“For them to look down and see some of the kids throwing snowballs, they just wanted to get up, get out of their chairs and throw snowballs,” Cefalu said. “It was really funny.”
In 2013 the teams played an exhibition game in front of STHS students, and last year Indonesian national elections forced the DBL players to visit during the Vikings’ season. Cefalu said he would eventually like the Vikings to travel to play their Indonesian counterparts in an international tournament during the summer.
“My basketball philosophy is teaching life through basketball, and that it’s just one step in the journey,” Cefalu said. “A lot of the kids that we coach and have in our community never leave, so for them to experience that culture is very educational.”