To think I had dismissed High 5 Basketball (High5 制霸青春) as a testosterone-fueled, egomaniac show about an underdog basketball team (filled with super tall hunks) going all the way to the finals under the leadership of a newbie female coach. Good thing I stuck to it. I might have FF through the beginning, skip some in the middle, but I was glued to the screen from episode 9 onward. I laughed. I cried. I was so proud of them at the end, I laugh cried. I was a mess.
This show tells me that, sometimes, the journey is more important than the destination. It is not weakness to accept help, nor is it ungrateful to ask for space. Knowing when to praise is just as crucial as knowing when to take out the whip. It is okay to cry, so long as we are surrounded by people who don’t judge us. Respect is what makes the world go round. And finally, it is certainly not wrong to have realistic expectation of our abilities, but nonetheless, try to better ourselves every single day.
I am so loving the show’s ending theme song: Janice Yan’s “The Gaze” (閻奕格 – 凝視).
For the team, it was a soul crushing moment to be told they were getting a new coach because their old coach had left for another team with better chance of reaching the championship game. And the new coach, by all indications, was worse than their old one. And it didn’t help that the clash between upperclassmen vs underclassmen, team vs star player was coming to a boil. Without their old coach’s high pressure put down, the hostility threatened to pull the team apart.
Their new coach turned out to be quite decent once they started actually following her game plan. However, adjusting to her methods and unlearning their bad habits was a whole other matter. It is akin to having all their bones broken. As the bones heal, they become stronger and more resilient. But the process is guaranteed to be painful.
If their old coach is an Alpha male, then their new coach is definitely an Alpha female. Lin Jialu can stare down a guy twice her size. No. She can stare down 12 guys twice her size and make them tremble like little rabbits. She can also hold their hands as they cry on her shoulder. She is awesome like that. But she is by no means perfect. She has an ego the size of USA which causes her to butt-head with people who don’t agree with her. But give her time to cool down and she will admit to the errors of her ways. She is big like that.
I love the dynamic between her and Si Boran, the team’s fitness coach. She is all about the games. He is all about the players. She will go, “Everybody, charge ahead!” And, he will go, “Hold your horses.” The tension between them reaches an all time high when it comes to handling team captain’s back injury. She wants Ke Weizhen on the field as soon as he is physically able. The game needs him. The trainer wants Weizhen to sit out the quarterfinals (even the rest of the competition, if they go on). Player needs time to heal. I know one of them would cave in the end, but she surprises me by finding a third choice. She will develop a game plan using all the players, not just relying on the star players, and he will give Weizhen one-on-one training to correct his form and prevent further injury. If all goes well, Weizhen will be able to play in the semi-finals in the best shape he’s ever in.
I was genuinely touched when they both admitted that they were being unnecessary stubborn because their professional opinions were being ignored and they felt disrespected. Once the respect issue was properly addressed, they were able to come up with a mutually agreeable alternative solution.
The team has three star players and each comes with baggage as large as Titanic:
Ke Weizhen, aka. Awei, captain, Point Guard, 186cm, 3rd year student. In an argument between talent vs training, he is firmly in the training camp. If he didn’t have to study, eat or go to bathroom, he would train every hour on the hour. He carries the weight of the whole team on his shoulder. The betrayal of their old coach and later the back injury almost crush him flat. Huang Yalun is the only person he admits his failings to. Not because he wants to, ‘cuz he is nothing if not stoic, but because she wouldn’t let him hide behind anger.
Zhan Zhikai, aka. James, Small Forward, 182cm, 1st year student. A more egomaniac you will not find. He has the trifecta of being a good-looking, talented basketball player from a rich family. He is the thorn on Weizhen’s back. Surprisingly, he is not a D-bag. Under that “I’m the king of the world” facade is a thoughtful boy who had to learn to defend himself at a very young age. His parents love him dearly but they are rarely by his side. When his former friend-turn-bully throws him off his game, no amount of “chicken soup for the soul” can restore his confidence. It is a mental hurdle that only he himself can overcome.
Zhou Jiafeng, Shooting Guard, 178cm, 2nd year student. He loves basketball and he loves piano, which for some reason is mutually exclusive. When Weizhen bullies him into additional training (against coach’s instruction) which leads to him physically collapse from exhaustion, he begins to fear the very place that brought him so much joy. Either he needs to quit or the hazing needs to stop.
It doesn’t matter where we start our journey, so long we are going to the same place and enjoying each others’ company. And because of the people we met along the way, we are a better person at the end of the journey than when we started.