The men’s basketball team’s visit to China this summer just got a bit more historic as Vice President Joe Biden gave a pep talk to the squad before their exhibition match on Wednesday at the National Olympic Sports Center.

University President John J. DeGioia was flanked by the vice president and the U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke as they watched the Hoyas play the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons. Biden’s talk before the game and halftime review seemed to put some fire in the Hoyas, who went on to win 98-81 against the Chinese team, which hails from the north division of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Thompson III reflected on how special such an occasion was for the team.

“I’m glad some of those things happened because life in the Big East is one big distraction. Being fortunate enough to play at Georgetown, we have many events like this,” he said in a university press release. “We were excited and honored to have the vice president, as he said, travel 24 hours to see us play, along with the many, countless Chinese politicians and delegates that came to watch their team play, as well as ours.”

As the Georgetown entourage has come to learn over the past view days in China, the unexpected has become the ordinary in their visit to the country.

The trip provides Georgetown with a special opportunity to share basketball — a popular sport in China — with a country that the university is eyeing as a partner for future projects.

Kicking off the 11-day visit on Sunday, the team, accompanied by university officials, students and alumni headed to Beijing. After visits to sites like the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square, the team has repeatedly expressed their admiration and amazement at the country and its culture.

Going into the trip, DeGioia had made it clear that this unique experience would broaden not only the basketball team’s worldview, but also the university’s.

“What we’re hopeful for is on this trip our current students will have an opportunity to experience the global quality, the global character of basketball in our world today,” DeGioia said in a recent video released by the university.

Georgetown’s ties to China run deeper than its more than 1,800 alumni living throughout China and southeast Asia. Over 20 academic partnerships and collaborations have led to a heightened interaction between the university and country, as the Hilltop is a frequent stop for MBA and executive courses.

Students also frequently study abroad at Beijing during the school year, immersing themselves in the culture and language, and the McDonough School of Business has a summer undergraduate business program that it holds in Shanghai. More than 150 senior Chinese government officials and executives also hold diplomas from Georgetown’s Global Education Institute.

Basketball ties also hearken back to 1978, when the People’s Republic of China sent its first national basketball team to the United States. The first in the series of games they played was against the Georgetown team coached by Coach John Thompson III’s father, Coach John Thompson Jr.

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