It was hard for fans not to notice the two US college basketball prospects of Taiwanese-American heritage commanding the court for Taiwan’s Team B at the William Jones Cup invitational in Taipei this month.
The Hinton brothers, 19-year-old Adam and 17-year-old Robert, on Wednesday combined for 30 of the team’s points in their 117-59 drubbing against NCAA Division I outfit the UC Irvine Anteaters, making them the only two players on the second-string national team to reach double digits.
Another highlight came in Thursday’s game against Qatar, when Robert Hinton — a four-star standout ranked top 100 among high-school students in the US — threw a tomahawk dunk on a fast break launched by his steal.
However, it is something bigger than basketball that brings the brothers back to their “second home,” Taiwan.
Born to an African-American father, Robert Hinton Sr, and a Taiwanese mother, Tsang Chen-cho, the brothers used to visit their grandmother in Taipei once or twice every year until seven years ago.
“Every time coming back there’s so much nostalgia, especially that seven-year gap of not being able to come back. We’ve changed so much, but it’s like some parts of Taiwan, like going back to our grandma’s home especially, are still the same,” Adam Hinton, a sophomore at NCAA Division I Cornell University in New York, told reporters on Thursday.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao
Those previous stays, usually lasting from a week to 10 days, took Adam and Robert Hinton to sights such as the National Palace Museum, Taipei 101 and night markets, which the brothers said helped them build a strong connection with Taiwanese culture.
“My mom has definitely helped me and my brother embrace our Taiwanese side. And we love everything about the culture, especially the food,” Adam Hinton said.
Chicken heart, stinky tofu and rice rolls are among the brothers’ favorites, with Robert Hinton saying that he ate xiaolongbao (steamed buns) for breakfast for two weeks during his stay in Taiwan this year, as the hotel kept offering them.
Adam and Robert Hinton said that they are blessed to have “two amazing parents” who allowed them to thrive in a diverse community free from discrimination.
“The thing that [my parents] have always stressed with us was character, so I feel like we have very strong senses of identity,” Adam Hinton said.
The seven-year gap, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was quickly bridged after the Hintons touched down in Taiwan in the middle of last month.
With Adam Hinton already turning out in US college basketball’s top division and Robert Hinton having announced his intention to follow in Jeremy Lin’s footsteps and attend NCAA Division I Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the brothers have been tipped as future stars for Taiwan’s national team.
Both of them would be able to represent Taiwan without occupying spots for naturalized players because they acquired Taiwanese IDs before they turned 16, thanks to the national basketball association notifying the Hintons in 2018.
Their first experience playing in front of a home crowd in Taiwan has been “amazing,” the brothers said, with one highlight being a fan who gifted them figurines from the animes One Piece and Naruto.
In unison, the brothers said they “don’t want to leave” Taiwan and are looking forward to coming back next year.
While the NBA is their top priority as basketball players, Robert and Adam Hinton said that they have dreams outside the sport.
Making it to the NBA is still a dream, but given the uncertainties the future holds and their experience of playing in Taiwan, Robert Hinton said that he would keep his options open.
Adam Hinton, who has ambitions to become a doctor, said that academic success and success in the sport do not inhibit each other, but “can actually build off of each other.”
As for Robert Hinton, who wants to make an instant impact on the court for Harvard, becoming a lawyer would also be a dream come true.
Taiwan B yesterday lost to South Korea’s Anyang KGC 99-97 at the Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium, putting them sixth on the table with a 2-5 record.
Anyang were third with a 6-1 record.
Taiwan A (second, 6-1) lost to the Anteaters (first, 7-0) 95-80.
In yesterday’s other games, Iran B (2-5, eighth) defeated the United Arab Emirates (3-5, fifth) 96-75 and Rain or Shine Pilipinas (2-5, seventh) downed Japan Under-22 116-91 (1-6, ninth).
Qatar (3-4, fourth) did not take the court, but are scheduled to play their eighth game on the final day of the competition today.
Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.