Practice games end 3-0
Good weekend for our Sundsvall Dragon team (3-0). With only a few practices under our belt going into the preseason tournament, it was clear that there is still a lot of work ahead of us -- especially on defense. We played a Finnish team twice and Uppsala (a local team) once. We probably averaged more than 90 points as a team -- clearly offense is not a problem for us. I was the leading scorer twice with 14p (12reb) and 23p respectively, but this was a preseason game so I don't take much from it, more than a little bit of a confidence booster going into the regular season. I love our coach, Peter Öqvist, a firecracker of a coach, and he has designed a great system where every player can play every position. Our two american stars actually hail from Philly -- small world eh. Alex Wesby played at Temple University, and Michael Cuffee grew up in North Philly when he was a kid. They both know Jerome "Pooh" Allen. Of course.
The city of Sundsvall.
Back on track.
Get ready! Set!
Woke up late today. Enjoyed a few hours out in the sun with country music blasting in the pod. I’m almost packed up for Monday, just have a few more things to wash and throw out. I have been practicing How to Love (lil wayne) on my guitar for a few days. I also started lifting this week, mostly upperbody. I am going to give my legs a few days of rest. Now much else is going on. Entourage marathon until I leave. Peace.
How to Love
Chaos chaos chaos!
I had arranged for a meeting with doctors on Tuesday morning to go over two of my injuries. The reason for this was because team insurance only covers me for when I am in Spain during season, and so ultimately I wanted everything looked at before I headed to America for vacation. After a quick ultrasound on my groin, I was taken to an optometric to have my left eye looked at. It was later determined that I had obtained a scratched retina from a finger in the left eye during a practice earlier in the season, and that this was causing some pain during sleep. I received some medicine and a 24hr eye patch. All is well… or so I thought.
Wednesday morning, the day I was supposed to leave for America, I wake up with an excruciating itch and pain in my left eye. Tears had been dripping down my face all night, I had a headache from all the swelling and pressure beneath my eyelid, and the itchiness had turned into a dissatisfying torture. No way I could fly back to America in this condition. A doctor in America without insurance would cost many times more than a doctor in Spain, so I decided to call up the CBT staff and rebook my flight as this would give me ample time to heal.
At 6am my agent Guillermo Pascual, the CBT general manager Aleix Boada, the GM assistant, the assistant coach Miquel, and my team doctor Dr Nacho, were all awake, deciding what to do with me. Me and Miquel take off at 8am to try to change the flight at the Barcelona airport (1hr away) since the reservation office was still closed and my flight was at 10am. After successfully rebooking the flight to Monday I head into the hospital for a review. After hours of waiting, a new and less irritating eye patch was made, and I was told to not use my eye for at least a day or two. I feel better today thank god. But what a day. And it sucks that I missed a week of vacation time in Philadelphia. But worse things could have happened as always. Trying to stay positive
P.S. Special thanks to CBT, my agent, and Dr Nacho for putting up with my panic and stress at 6 in the morning.
We celebrate like we won a ‘ship!
After winning our last playout game at Malaga, the dark cloud surrounding CBT finally lifted. Although we had hoped for a better season, we still accomplished something in the end. We finally got a small taste of winning. The night after our final game was celebrated as if we had won a championship, with champagne bottles and happy smiles. I asked if we get a trophy for winning the losers bracket, haha. In all seriousness though, we finally played like a team come playout time. JMitch finally started racking up huge figures in scoring, “gettin buckets” as we say. Big Andrej stepped up bigtime on the rebounding side, and was able to pull two season records I’ve never seen before. For one, he was able to utilize only two pairs of shoes for the entire season (a total of 39 games and over 300 practices). Amazing what a bit of tape can do. Talk about recycling. Secondly, he is the only person I’ve seen who has forgotten his shoes (the only essential equipment for a basketball player) at home for an away trip, not once, but twice in a season. Haha, much love man. Devon, our young ACB loaner and point guard, also stepped up big and was able to control the game like he should have been doing all year. Good job averaging 1 assist per game for a PG! Pass the damn ball, haha!!! Check out the body bag below though. He got bunnies. (turn off the sound tho. its messed up for some reason)
As for the rest of the crew, I’d like to thank everyone at CBT and all of our Spanish players for making this experience one to never forget. Through the ups and downs, it is clear that we all came together when we really needed to. It’s been a grind, but life always is. We try to make the best of it. And that is how I will go about life from now on.
A much needed update!
So we went 3-0 in the playout against Clinicas Rincon, thank goodness. This means that CB Tarragona is allowed to stay in the LEB Gold league next season, something that can silently be celebrated. This year has been a learning experience, with as many struggles on as off the court. But I do feel a sense of accomplishment. Berni, our head coach (and former ACB player) says that appreciation often does not come from the positive experiences, but from the reflections of the negative ones. Very true. Some pictures of our trip...
(Our amazing trainer Olga at team dinner. Poppin' bottles)
(Night walk at Benahavis)
(Hotel at Benahavis. Middle of the green mountains.)
(Devon doing what he always does...working hard on a summer tan...pause.)
(12hr bustrip break. 90 degree weather, and yet snow lingers on the mountain tops.)
4 things about the Spanish beach culture!
Woke up at 11am. Today would be a day of relaxation and lots of beach/sun. I’ve realized a few things about the so-called beach culture here in Spain.
- Yes, females do to go topless here. The only problem is that these females tend to be 50+ years old.
- Ever seen a tanga? On a man? Yeah, you don’t want to.
- Shaving/waxing the legs is considered unisexual practice here. I’ll keep my opinion to myself on this one.
- There is a clear trend of obese children, even in Spain. What are these parents doing?
Personal contribution in the Canaries game!
Overall I've been shooting 13/13 from the field in the last 2 games. I honestly think it's been the pregame ritual of a spanish redbull (called Energetica) right before the game starts. I'm not even trying to make a placement ad, this thing works for me. And it is all probably mental. But hey, do I care?
CBT vs Canaries
Practice today contained four quartered games of 5 minutes each, going through all of our set plays to prepare us for our final game of the regular season against Canaries. The practice went well overall but it is clear that we all need a break. People are aching and hurting. It has been a learning experience for all of us to say the least. Shoutout to my teammate Ivan Martinez who messed up his knee badly today. Thoughts and prayers. It gets one thinking. All of this can be taken away in an instant. Makes one appreciate it more.
After our morning practice I headed to the Salou beach for a few hours. Perfect weather and perfect temperature. Two guys were building this insane sand castle sculpture, but I unfortunately didn’t have my phone with me to take pictures. I can’t say my body feels rejuvenated, but I am generally happy and hopefully that will be enough to find focus for tomorrow’s game. Hydrate, stretch and rest.
The lack of money is the root of all evil!
As paychecks become even more delayed I have really pondered the balance between financial stability and tranquility. The pure enjoyment of the basketball game becomes somewhat ambiguous when we become conscious of what the game can come to represent as we become professional athletes. It has been said so many times before that basketball can be used as a medium to launch oneself into a different kind of lifestyle. It is, in fact, the tool most of us basketball players use to define our life and existence. It is our guidance in life. It is what motivates us and pushes us forward in everything we do, not only athletics per say. But once we become defined by basketball, everything else tends to become more and more complicated. When basketball becomes the main outlet for our financial needs, we tend to be worried about other things but the game itself. And it is hard not to be. Some players have wives/girlfriends and children to support. The pressure to perform sometimes outweighs the pure pleasure of just playing the game. We still love it more than ever, but it is not the same liberated game we started out playing in the school yard so many years ago. Once you attach money to basketball, and thus everything else, the game transforms into a serious business with incentives that we essentially rely on to remain in peace. Take away those incentives and we lose trust in the foundation of basketball that once gave us consistency in life.
"The lack of money is the root of all evil."
- Mark Twain