Buddy, thanks. W, thanks. But imitating DongFang Xiang means I will never surpass him. I, Yuan DaYing will not admit defeat. And I am headstrong like that. So, I will do it my way. … Speed. Speed is my way.
To mark the perfect end to the brief, intense, yet laughter-filled training session, Tang Long pulls out one last trick from his sleeve. He wants to teach the team how to catch a ball. Not just any ball, but a ball sent to the air with so much strength that a whirlwind of force surrounds it, envelops it, and protects it as the ball dances scornfully in midair, as if lifted by an invisible tornado. (Flying saucer! *grabs camera* Wait, it’s.. a ball?! Floating in air?) So far no one dares to catch it – the fearless has already tried and failed – and DongFang Xiang’s ability is outside the boundary of “normality” to be categorized under the same group. Consequently, his success at catching the ball is no surprise to anybody. In fact, it’s almost expected of him. Just as it’s expected of Yuan DaYing to try and defy gravity. (If you click on the link under defy[ing] gravity, umm, yeah, I’m in one of those rotating musical moods.)
And speed, boys, can get you quite far. (I don’t mean in a relationship kind of way.)
After watching stalking DongFang Xiang and Yuan DaYing’s successful attempts to catch Tang Long’s balls, WuJi Zun is eager to test the extent of his own capability.
Tang Long nods approvingly, “Are you going to ask me the question you are most concerned about?” A look of surprise glistened in WuJi Zun’s eyes for a fraction of a second, then a mocking smile replaces it. “Of course. Being the kind of master you are…” he mutters, “DongFang Xiang, YuanDa Ying, and I, who is the strongest?” The master chuckles to himself, “I do not know.” and he walks away, satisfied and expectant. (On a completely irrelevant side note, Wu Chun’s bangs are way too long. Could use a haircut.)
Qiu Kui is playing ball with a group of friends on the court when a dangerous-looking man (hmm nice face paint) wearing a leg brace kicks off the floor, knocks down a nearby basketball hoop, and lands on the hood of a white car.
He challenges Qiu Kui to a dual and defeats her ruthlessly. Before leaving, he straightens his collar and tells Qiu Kui viciously, “Tell your friend DongFang Xiang to practice. Because. I. Am. Back.” (eh, who are you?)
Alright, myth buster time! (not really.)
One more reason why DongFang Shuo wanted to get rid of Tie Lan, it was said that there was virtually no way of breaking past Tie Lan’s self-created dribbling technique. Tang Long himself had seen the move twice and claimed it to be wondrously difficult to penetrate.
Tie Lan must’ve observed for a long time before deciding to adopt Yuan DaYing. And the reason for preventing him from playing basketball is, similar to the belief of a kung fu master: if you plan to teach someone a deadly technique, the best candidate is one who has had no prior exposure to it. (Well, since he can’t get the girl, maybe he can acquire some hardcore skill to make up for the loss.)
On the way back from the airport, after sending Tang Long off, Xiang and DaYing started to call JieEr simultaneously as if on cue. (I like this A LOT because aside from showing their affection towards JieEr, they are in fact, acting in synchrony. And I think that is a sign of brotherly intimacy.) None of them can get through and it’s DaYing who notices that they have been doing the same thing. He smartly points it out and asks Xiang, “Is it true that you’ve never lost before?” Xiang asks back without answering, “Is it true that you’ve never given up?” DaYing smiles, “I have. To Gu Gu Chicken. She’s my first love and in front of her, I was never victorious.” “What about JieEr?” Xiang asks. W turns her head to listen now. “Well,” DaYing replies, “She has never asked me to give up about anything for her, so I don’t know.” After a pause, he asks Xiang, “You haven’t answered my question. Is it true that you’ve never lost before?” Xiang recalls a basketball game with Qiu Kui and answers, “If it’s basketball you’re talking about, I’ve lied. I’ve lost to someone before.” Now he has the attention of the entire car. “Who is it?” DaYing presses.
“His name is Can. (It actually means incomplete or remaining in Chinese, although it could mean cruel as well.) He was my childhood friend. *camera cuts to the dangerous guy with the war paint looming over a source of light. the noise of his foot brace crushing the trash on the floor emits an eerie, sizzling sound.* He plays street basketball like Qiu Kui. But…
“He is different from everyone else because…
“Where is he?” DaYing wonders. “Probably in a local penitentiary. … He’s hurt a few people while playing, then someone died as a result a few years back…”
A new round of competition is starting soon, Pi Li starts to observe their first opponent in front of a (so very cute,) basketball TV. The number 38 on the opponent team plays so inconsistently that he appears peculiar, yet they can’t quite tell what’s strange about him. Xiang on the other hand is behaving very unlike himself after getting a message from Qiu Kui telling him Can is back.
On the day of the competition, a series of unfortunate events happened. First, the bus that was to take Pi Li to the gym broke down on the road. To preserve energy and save time, W (in her bloody high heels and mini skirt) and the rest of the players run to the competition site as part of the warm up. Pi Li is undoubtedly late. So late that if they don’t appear within five minutes, the judge will announce them forfeit.
On the audience stand, JieEr and the president of the Student Association are sitting in the crowd, eagerly awaiting Pi Li’s arrival. While waiting, the president tells JieEr that she will make a move towards Yuan DaYing some time in the term and wonders if JieEr minds, openly profess her crush on DaYing to JieEr. It won’t be long before she send DaYing to the moon with her confession.
Can is eying the open benches coldly on the side line. (An intimidation tool eh? Admittedly, a mighty useful one.)
Two minutes or so left. W is on the brink of fainting, the others are already sweating like pigs. 29 seconds, Xiang bursts into the door first.
Competition starts. As Xiang enters the court, he keeps shooting nervous glances at Can, who malevolently smirks back at him.
Jump ball. Yuan DaYing’s fans cheered him on. (Oh finally some thoughts on the fans.) He bends down and cockily tells his opponent, “Here’s a tip for you, next time, get the tallest guy to jump ball – because otherwise, you won’t even touch it.” The guy gives him a hard look and replies, “No need.” The coach blows into the whistle, and before Yuan DaYing can process the sound waves, make the appropriate synaptic changes for motor planning, and later, motor execution, the stony guy has already touched the ball and slammed it as hard as he can to his half court. The price of arrogance is high, Pi Li watches as the other team scores one after another. W is burning in apprehension. Even DongFang Xiang, under Can’s presence, has lost his usual coolness. And DaYing’s fans scream louder than ever. (Where is Xiang’s fans??)
Break time. W conducts a brief guided meditation session and reminds them of what Tang Long had said: play with your heart. (Is there some philosophical message here? *winkles nose* I only smell corniness.)
Before the break is over, W asks, “Do you guys recall the feeling of winter training?” DaYing jumps up, copying the famous superman pose and yells, “THE POWER OF MIND!” Everyone turns to look at him. He shrinks an inch and asks shyly, “Am I.. too loud?” *rolls eyes* (obviously.) “Are you an idiot?” Xiang retorts. lol.
The meditation evidently works wonderfully. Pi Li is chasing the gap in the second quarter (as always. you don’t even need to lift an eye to know the hard-carved Truth.) The entire team comes alive. Not only are Xiang and DaYing the score-guarantees, the otherwise ignored trio became just as fierce at scoring.
DaYing’s presence is no doubt a comic relief, yet it’s of little use to Xiang when Can is standing there lurking around like a dark shadow. It may seem like seamless team work each time Xiang passes the ball to his team member, who in turn scores the points, but Xiang and Can both know, under Can’s piercing eye, Xiang is rendered helplessly insecure. He simply doesn’t have the confidence to slam dunk himself.
Second quarter ends. Pi Li’s principle, W’s dad is recording the competition. His interest is not on the score board, he is interested in the unpredictable #38.
Competition resumes. After the break, this #38 becomes uncannily good, it’s like he’s a different person. ( 😉 )
While everybody is racking their brain trying to figure out a way to win this competition, the principle walks towards the back room with his camcorder and…
… mystery solved: the old principle had noticed that during every break, this #38 would disappear with the coach for a little while. Each time he is sweating when he leaves the court, but comes back dry as the drought. The only plausible conclusion is – they switched person, which means this #38 has an identical twin. The deduction explains the reason this #38 has been so inconsistent. One moment he is crazy good, then the next, he’s plain average. Yet to keep something like that on a team and conceal the fact the two twins have been switching on and off, it’s considered cheating. So the principle sets out to gather solid proof.
And that’s where more unfortunate events happened. The principle walks into the opponent team’s locker room, tries to knock #38 out, is cornered by #38’s twin, and got hit unconscious himself.
When the competition resumes, Pi Li faces…
Mmhmm, they aren’t twins. They are a triplet. And now, the coach is letting all three of them playing in the game at the same time.
Let’s back up a little and explain this: Yes, they are identical siblings; yes they have different names; yes they’ve been rotating and acting as one person; and yes the coach has been training them in secrecy in preparation for the nation-wide basketball game. Now you’re probably wondering why they have different names, that is because they are adopted by different people, hence donning their adopted parents’ name. How they end up in one school, I have no idea. All I know is that the coach obliterated all obstacle to make it happen. They’ve been trained in seclusion, never appearing where the other might appear, and I suppose they took meticulous care to make sure they don’t have the same circle of friends the prevent the secret from being leaked.
Now they finally appear together in broad day light, the impact is immense. The competition gets a little confusing because #38 is suddenly EVERYWHERE. Every corner, every turn, there’s he, himself, and him. Soon, the gap between the two teams is extended as far as 7 points apart and still growing. (eh, 7 points is nothing if you’re watching NBA.)
W changes strategy. She had to. They are going to do this one on one and try to make #38 commit enough fouls that he’ll be out of the game for good.
Being Pi Li, being the protagonist of the show, being the black sheep, #38 is resting on the bench with a large blue towel over his head in no time.
The competition continues, more intense than it had started. By the time there is 27 seconds left, the score has shortened to 81:82. Last two seconds, the point at which this ball can either make or break Pi Li. Xiang gets the ball and he… passes it to DaYing. Can’s influence is deep and Xiang’s confidence is rapidly deteriorating as if he’s infected with a disease. DaYing holds the ball, waiting, and, thinking…
I think DaYing will pass it to Xiang. Because Xiang is going to grow out of this one with DaYing’s help.
On the other hand, I really like Can. I’ve got this positive intuition about him and I’m sure it’s not because he’s novel and mysterious and bad. 😀
Alright, that’s it for now. Hope you all had a wonderful full moon with plenty of fancy moon cakes (while fantasizing about the werewolves)!
PS: Forgot to mention, in real life, #38 & 39 are identical twins. I’m sure they changed it to triplet in order to surprise the viewers. When they reappeared, I thought there’s going to be five of them, which would’ve been both absurd and freaky. Can you imagine a team of five that look the same?