HS Basketball: Two International Imports Bring a Fresh, Global Outlook to Murrieta Valley On and Off the Court

Niccoló Giulietti from Italy & Ko Yung Yu of Taiwan are Two New Nighthawks this Season

Murrieta Valley has been blessed with the addition of two remarkable students this year. Niccoló Giulietti is a foreign exchange student from from Milan, Italy and Ko Yung Yu comes from Taipei in Taiwan. Both students are athletes, and both are on this year’s Nighthawk varsity basketball team.

Nico, is a senior who was born in Monza, and lives in Bernareggio a city in the countryside of Milan. He found Murrieta from a catalogue of schools offered by an agency in Italy. “My family supported me in the decision of the possibility for this exchange experience. They know my passion for the studying English and basketball” said Giulietti.

Yung Yu, who has adopted the American nick name “Sam”, is a junior who came to the states for his education. “When I was in Taiwan, we had to practice 7 hours a day” said Sam. We didn’t have time to study, and that made me worry about my future. So I decided go out and see the world and study in America”.

Nico has played basketball since he was 3 years old. “I was following my older sister on the court. “In the beginning it was just for fun and later basketball became my passion” said Nico. “I have played for the last 5 years for a team called Libertas Cernusco, from the suburbs of Milan. We won the Italian Under 15 championship few years ago”.

Sam’s last team was the Zhuang Jing high school basketball team in Taipei. He has been playing regularly for the last 5 years. “I’m just a kid from Taiwan, and I love to play basketball”.

“Nico and Sam have both fit in with the team well. They have both been a positive experience for the team. They bring a different outlook on things and expose their teammates to international concerns and issues” said Murrieta Valley coach Daniel Millard.

“They both have a determined work ethic that drives them to get better every day. Sam joined the team a little later then Nico and is catching up nicely” added Millard. “Nico has a very outgoing personality and jokes a lot with the team and staff. He has a very high IQ of the game from his experience in European basketball. He serves the role currently as our “sixth man” and gives it 100% every time he is on the court”.

Millard also has praise for his Taiwanese import. “Sam is the quieter more reserved of the two” said Millard. “When given the opportunity, he is extremely active on the court. As Sam continues to get to know the schemes and routine of the team, we hope to feature him a lot more in league play”.

Nico is adjusting to life in the United States. “It was it difficult at first. It was hard at the beginning to adapt myself to the language and the habits. But after few weeks everything became much clearer. I like to hangout with my friends and usually spend time in the gym”.

It has been more difficult for Sam to adjust. “Actually, is much harder than I thought. Lately I have a lot of frustrations and self-doubt” said Sam. “I won’t say that I’m having a great time, but I believe hard work will always have pay off. I think everything will get better. There’s two things for sure…it’s very valuable for me to be here and I’ll never give up”!

Nico plans on graduating from High School this year, have a good season and help the team try and win in the tough Southwestern league. His dream is play basketball for an American College.

Sam’s goals are to get better at basketball everyday and most important, to excel in his academics. His main objective is getting a degree from a reliable university. And yes, he dreams of playing college basketball.

Murrieta Valley Head Coach Brian Wethers, who has played professional basketball around the world, welcomes his two imports. “They will definitely make a very positive impact on the team. We are fortunate to have them”.

Photos by Scott Hazen