Basketball bolsters bilateral bonds

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. George Covington, the commander’s support staff NCO in charge with the 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, dribbles a basketball at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 17, 2016. The Japan Railway East Akita Peckers played the Misawa Jets as part of a basketball camp meant to foster bilateral relations and prepare players for the upcoming season. Covington is from Panama City, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jordyn Fetter)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. George Covington, the commander’s support staff NCO in charge with the 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, dribbles a basketball at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 17, 2016. The Japan Railway East Akita Peckers played the Misawa Jets as part of a basketball camp meant to foster bilateral relations and prepare players for the upcoming season. Covington is from Panama City, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jordyn Fetter)

A Japan Railway East Akita Peckers basketball lies on a court at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 17, 2016. Approximately 40 basketball players from Misawa AB and the Japanese community came together to exchange different skills and form friendships. Basketball provides a unique opportunity through which Japanese and American citizens can come together and immerse their cultures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jordyn Fetter)

A Japan Railway East Akita Peckers basketball lies on a court at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 17, 2016. Approximately 40 basketball players from Misawa AB and the Japanese community came together to exchange different skills and form friendships. Basketball provides a unique opportunity through which Japanese and American citizens can come together and immerse their cultures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jordyn Fetter)

Members of the Japan Railway East Akita Peckers basketball team tour a static display of an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 17, 2016. The team was briefed on the 35th Fighter Wing mission and viewed F-16s before taking part in a basketball camp and game. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Deana Heitzman)

Members of the Japan Railway East Akita Peckers basketball team tour a static display of an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 17, 2016. The team was briefed on the 35th Fighter Wing mission and viewed F-16s before taking part in a basketball camp and game. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Col. William Bowman, the commander of the 35th Operations Group, speaks with members of the Japan Railway East Akita Peckers basketball team at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 17, 2016. As part of a Misawa AB tour and basketball camp, the Japanese team was briefed on the purpose and mission of the 35th Fighter Wing. The goal of the event was to promote bilateral relations and help basketball players prepare for the upcoming season. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Col. William Bowman, the commander of the 35th Operations Group, speaks with members of the Japan Railway East Akita Peckers basketball team at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 17, 2016. As part of a Misawa AB tour and basketball camp, the Japanese team was briefed on the purpose and mission of the 35th Fighter Wing. The goal of the event was to promote bilateral relations and help basketball players prepare for the upcoming season. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Deana Heitzman)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

Sports provide a forum for people of different backgrounds and cultures to come together and take part in a shared interest.

 

The Misawa Jets basketball team fostered such a connection when they held a summer basketball camp with the Japan Railway East Akita Peckers team to strengthen bilateral bonds and improve skills, June 17.

 

The day's activities consisted of a tour of the base, a 35th Fighter Wing mission brief, an F-16 Fighting Falcon static display and a skills camp in preparation for the upcoming basketball season starting in October.

 

“At Misawa Air Base, we have a rich and unique bond with our Japanese community,” said Eugene Scott, 35th Operations Group executive officer and Misawa Jets assistant coach. “This tour and camp promotes and strengthens U.S. and Japanese relations while working together on all fronts.”

 

While the tour of Misawa AB highlighted the base’s purpose and the role Airmen play in the mission, the basketball event focused on honing skills like dribbling, passing, shooting, footwork and team plays.

 

"We were very excited to play a professional team in the aspects of getting ready for our upcoming season,” said Staff Sgt. Marcus Hollins, a pharmacy technician with the 35th Medical Support Squadron. “This shows us where our weaknesses are and what we need to focus on. This was also an amazing opportunity to learn some Japanese basketball tricks and possibly use them in our future plays."

 

Basketball itself provides a unique opportunity through which Japanese and American citizens can come together and immerse themselves in one another's cultures.

 

“It’s a great opportunity to have fun, learn, and make new friends while doing something you love,” said Scott. “For us, it is basketball.”

 

For the 40 participants of the event, this was a chance to share new knowledge and develop friendships.

 

"I learned a lot of American plays coming here and playing the American team, and will incorporate their playing style into our future games," said Hikaru Sato, Japan Railway East Akita Peckers team captain.

 

Scott said he aims for this to be an annual event to ensure athletes are constantly improving themselves and sharing their knowledge with their Japanese counterparts.

 

“Providing a tour coupled with exchanging knowledge between athletes will continue to build on our great relationship,” Scott said. “Ball is life.”