DAY 10: Hey!!!! TEQUILLA!!

Today, we played Mexico. I like that team mostly because they upset Bresil last september at qualifiers in Vancouver. Also because I have the most respect for the’re leader Raoul Ortega. He is a amazing player. I met him for the first time while I was playing at the University of Texas at Arlington. He played for the NWBA D1 team the Dallas MAvericks. We woulld scrimmage them all the time. Anyways we played well. The start of the game looked a little slow until my teammate (the only one of us who has a Fan page on facebook of him) and roomate, Dirt made back to back 3’s. Those 3’s settled the players down and we got to work. The final score was 68-45. It was a great start for the tournament. Here is the interview of my teammate Brandon Wagner

Right now, since we are staying low key because The Tournament started and that we finished the tv series 24 Dirt and I, I introduced Dirt to a Quebecois tv show named BOB Gratton: My LIfe. Young prodigee Mik Poulin joined us for a couple episodes. We are just laughing so hard. We also ended the night by watching a horror movie. It was the Strangers. Well it was just funny even more seeing my roomate Dirt scared again. Geez, I Still cant believe how horror movies affect this guy. Tomorrow we wil play Algeria. Got to get some rest.

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DAY 9: Let the games begin

Today the team and I are geting more and more anxious to start playing. We will have to wait one more day though cause we dont play on the first day. We did have opening ceremonies. We waited for a while before it started but once it started, it was short and sweet, with a mixture of breakdancers, gymnastics and ballroom dancers. It finished with a little welcoming speech by the games organizers.
We had a short one hour practice today getting us ready or tomorrows first game. We will start versus Mexico. All the games are live online at this address. Here it is: You have to click on the link for one of the 2 courts, the schedule should list which court we’re on. And for those of you interested, this covers all of the games. The schedule is at this link:

Oh yes, i forgot to mention, but someone stole one of my spair wheels. I better not find out who it is.

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DAY 7 & 8: OFF DAY

Well today we had a off day. So nothing much to say except that we went
to the mall today and that Tyler almost killed himself falling off the escalator in the sports store. Later that day, while the rest of the team went back to the hotel, Bo Dirt and I stopped at a All-you-can-eat sushi place. It was pretty cool cause the sushi was served on a conveyor belt that circled the table and the customers just pick what they want as the food moves around. We also had an optional practice on the main floor. Most of the team went just to shoot around and get a feel of the floor and baskets. Legendary Joey Johnson, Dirt and I went to the movie theatre and watched a movie called The Collector. It’s a horror movie from the writers of SAW 4,5,6. It is rated 18+ and has a 4 star review. And I also would give it 4 stars, but on a scale of 10. Oh yes, and a 5 star review if you go with Dirt. I’ve never seen Dirt with a high pitch scream like that. It was funny to see him scream like a little girl and that’s why it made the movie better. Sorry Dirt, but its true. Anyone can ask Joey and he will confirm this statement.
To finish the day, Dirt and I finished 24. Jack Bauer is an Icon.

DAY 8: The start of chaos at the hotel

Today, it was a pretty relaxed day also. We only had a 1 hour practice. We also had a classification practice. This practice consists of doing chair measurements. Not very fun. The classifiers are all excited because they pretend to have found a new technology and way to measure the wheelchairs. Its basically lasers that measures the height of the wheelchair. The laser sends a horizontal line on a wall and if you put the wheelchair in front of it, you have to see the line of the laser hitting the back of the wall or backrest of the chair for it to be legal. There is lots of problems with that new method and the classifiers were not very lenient and using common sense. What ended by happening was that all the players from every country, mostly all the class 3.5 and up, ended up by being illegal all by 1mm. And most of them is because of the cover of the athletes cushions have ripples in them which prevent the laser to get the whole way to the back. But that 1mm would make everyone illegal and the classifiers wouldn’t let it go. Like if 1mm on everyone’s chair makes a difference. Anyways, I’ll change subject before I get frustrated again. All I can say right now is that we adapted and we are all ok now after ridiculous chair modifications. By the way, they are all proud to say its new technology but this technology has been created a long time ago. They are the same lasers that you can find at Home Depot to get picture frames levelled.

From the very beginning that we have been here at the Jurys Inn, there was only 4 teams here. Now all 22 teams have arrived, both men’s and women’s. Now the elevators are always full and the restaurant where we eat all our meals, that can only contain 200 people is overflowing by wheelchairs.

Dirt and I went to the market and got a s-video and audio wire so we could hook up the laptop on the tv. Now we can watch our movies on the TV. We watched one of my favourite movies, Step Brothers. We laughed a lot. We also start to watch Balls of Fury but dint finish it. Oh yes, I also finally shaved by playoff beard. Tomorrow the real competition begins with the opening ceremonies.

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DAY 6: “Soon will I rest, yes, forever sleep. Earned it I have. Twilight is upon me, soon night must fall.” -Yoda

Finnaly a whole 8hrs of interrupted sleep. The problem….. it’s 3 am.
So I stayed in bed wide awake till 7. Then, went for breakfast and after came back to sleep a little till 9h45. We had a team meeting at 10.
In the meeting, I was happy to see that Ross MacDonald joined our team today. Until now, we were missing a player due to Yvon Rouillard breaking his hand. Cristian Lassera prepared us a little 15 minute video session on what we did good and what we could of done versus Great Britain. He did a really great job. His video session was followed by our head coach Jerry’s scouting video sesion on Japan. He showed us their tendencies, and showed us that last time we played them, we had a really bad start, losing the first quarter 26-6. Even if we did finish our last encounter by coming back from behind to get the win, we din’t want to do he same thing today. So the focus was to have a great start today. In the past, we our team struggled with strong starts, but that was then. We now worked on that and its been a long time since we had a bad start. Joey Johnson keeps reminding us before games, that the start of a game is mostly always due to mental preparation and warmup.
Following the scouting video, Jerry finished the meeting with the game plan and announcing the starting lineup who will be in charge to give us that great start versus the Japanese. Joey Johnson, Dave “Dirt” Durepos, Richard “Bear” Durepos, Robert “Bo” Hedges & Abdi Dini.

We had lunch at 11. Not much food today. Mostly just cold cuts meat. Dosen’t really matter to me because my stomach is still bothering me and I’m starting to have a loss of appetite.

1pm was the tip-off for our last game of the pre-tournament. The end score was not that very important in my mind, but what was, was to see how we would respond mentally and emotionnaly after yesterdays bad game. The chosen 5 did and incredible job starting. My roommate Dirt, was playing like we know he can. Shooting from the outside and getting some layups. Joey Johnson was a defensive machine grabbing all the rebounds and finishing strong in the paint even though he had 1 or 2 japanese hangning down his arms with no foul called by the japanese. They went on a 15-0 start before #5 of Japan made their first bucket. It was a 3. The first quarter finished with a huge lead. We were all very excited about it until our second lineup went in and was really out of sync. So out of sync that the japanese team took advantage of it and brought the game back and tied it at 45-45 in the 3rd quarter. It took a lineup to slow things down and execute some X’s and O’s by the book to take the lead back by 11. That Lineup was lead by Dirt, Ross, B-Wags, Abdi and myself. This lineup dint do nothing extraordinary. We were just, text book. Thats how we should of adjusted in yesterdays game against the Brits. Anyways, we ended winning the game on a positive note.
I was really impressed on how rookie Brandon “BWags” Wagner has been playing lately. If there was a most improved player award to hand out, BWags would be in nomination without a shout of a doubt along with Bo and Jazzy. Even though BWags is a rookie, he has a very high wheelchair basketball IQ. He always has very pertinent comments and feedback.
This was the last game of our pre-tournament. We finished 2nd.
In our team’s game debrief, we talked about what to do next after Dirt stole all my ideas on the mental aspect that I mentionned in yesterdays blog. Jerry wanted me to elaborate on this so I gave an Marvel X-MEN comparision to our team. I’ll elaborate this in a special feature in my BLOG. Stay tuned.

We had the night off after we had a great team bonding diner at the MALT House. The Team had a great time. After some players played some poker but I fell asleep watching a episode of 24. Tomorrow we have a day off.

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Day 5: Mental Relapse

This morning, I had breakfast at the same time as usual, 7am. Robert “Bo” Hedges showed up with assistant coaches Jamie Peers and Darrell Nordell. Is the Breakfast Club back? We’ll just have to see.
We had a early short practice today at 9:15 to 10:30. We just worked and perfected our 2-men games. I was paired up with Bo and we really did well offensively and defensively which happened to be very useful later in the day when we faced Great-Britain.
We dint have much time between practice and our second game that was held at 1pm. We had to come back to the hotel, have lunch at 11pm and be back at the gym for noon for the coaches game-plan and before we know it. Time to play and my stomach is really not doing well for a reason but I have to ignore it.

We had a good start versus Great-Britain and seemed at the time that we were controlling the tempo and pace of the game. The starters were Bo, Joey, Jazzy, Abdi and myself with Bo and I playing on the same side offensvely and defensively and we were doing really well. Great Britain was really physical but playing as a team and helping each other made it really to counter their physicality. After only 4 minutes of the start of the game, I was taken out by one of the British players in transition where I fell out hard out of my chair and broke on of my axels on my chair. I was forced out of the game due to not being able to fix my chair in time. I made a mistake packing, I brought the wrong bag with the wrong extra ales in it. Bear lended me a axle and I was back in the game to finish the last minute of the quarter. We finished the quarter leading and its in the second quarter that little stuff started to happen. Little by little, we started having little mental lapses. Talking back to the refs, getting negative, not crossing in transition, and more little things. We were just going cack to our past bad habits. It was not the bad in this quarter, but it was starting. We were behind at half by 7 points. In the 3rd quarter we were able to keep up ith the British a little better losing that quarter by only 2. We were then trailing by 9. Nothing to panic about. The good thing so far far was that we kept them at only 40 points at the end of the 3rd, a team that we usually scores more on us, which means that defensively we were doing a good job. The problem is that offensively, we were out of sync. Then the 4th quarter was a disaster. They brought their lead to 20. Actually, I should say, we gave them the lead to 20. All the little negatve things that started in the 2nd quarter justkept growing and before we knew it, we were getting out-pushed, blaming the refs, playing individually, and I could go on. The game finished in the British favor.
Now the thing is, we know what we have to do. We need to get refocused and we have to remember that this is still a preparation game. It’s better that it happens now then before the real games start. The most important right now is to keep the team’S spirit and heads up. So we have to put this game behind us, take the good, and learn from the adjustements that we can do if it happens again. We need to refine our mental skills. I can’t wait for our Team’s sport psychologist Judy Goss to join us later this week. She will be a great help as she always is. The thing is, at this level of wheelchair basketball, when the World Championships starts on the 8th of July, any team could win it. At this Level, all teams are strong, fast and physically fit. The difference between winning and losing is the team that will be mentally ready.

We had another night off so Bo, Tyler and I went back to the mall. There was more people around this time. We took a couple of pictures, saw a white, blond girl giving a outside concert in Victoria Square signing and dancing indian music. The was a guy debating a crowd on the Bible and the koran. And ome breakdancers practicing their moves. We stopped at a little coffee place, had a salad and some coffee. While we were in the shopping center, my stomach was acting up on me and I was feeling really bad. I even had a bad nose-bleed earlier while I took my shower after the game. Anyways, I went back to the hotel and by 7pm, I was asleep.

Little Update: Mikael and Tyler, at lunch time, started their conversation again on pasta and protein. Joey Johnson and Chris Laserra each looked on the internet for nutritionnal value and 1 cup of white pasta actually has 8.1 grams of protein. Mik was right all along and he insisted, that I mention it in my blog. Sorry Tyler.

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YES!!!!!! Finally, 7 hours of non-interrupted sleep. I probably could of waken up a little later if during my sleep I would of not head butt the wall next to my bed. That’s right, I wok up giving a head-butt to the wall. For some strange reason, yesterday Dirt and I came back to our room and someone separated both beds against the wall. Kind of weird considering that the room was still messy. Would the cleaning ladies came and separate the beds without cleaning the room?
There was a second reason why I couldn’t fall back to sleep at 7 am and got up. I knew what I wrote in my blog yesterday, and if anyone of the breakfast club would of read my blog and showed up for breakfast while I was still sleeping, I did not want to be called on it. But no one was there again beside Dirt and I. I think the breakfast club is Dead.
Anyways, at 11 we had our team meeting where the coaches showed us some video clips from the last time we played Italy last month in Manchester and gave us the game plan.
Italy is a team that has improved since 2004. They have some really tall guys and one or 2 good shooters. They are also in our pool when World Championships will start next week. It is good to get to know them a little better before then and we had the chance to do so because today is the day where our pre-tournament starts, and Italy is the team with whom we start today.
The game was originally suppose to start at 1 but was delayed till 2 because the Italians flight came in late. That gave us a chance to have more warm-up time. It was very important to start out strong because in my opinion, the start would set the pace for the rest of our road to defending our championship. Usually, we always started the first game of a tournament slow, and from there, we improve every game in the given tournament. If we keep our tendencies, and keep improving every game from our first game against Italy, we will be really on the right track. Good news….. we had the best tournament start today. The team was playing intense, focus and together. A good mixture of inside and outside shooting. We were executing well and applying all the concepts that we have been working hard on for the past year. The shot percentage was good also except for our free throws but I will take the blame for that. I struggle at the line today but I know why, and I’m not worried about it because it will be a easy adjustment. The greatest thing about it is that we have a team right now that is 12 deep. We have different line-ups and all line-ups can fill-in and bring the team a step higher. The only player that did not play today was Richard “Bear” Peter. We were up in the game at one point with a margin as high as the high 20’s but the Italians went on a little run near the end to finish the game by 14 points. Right now I would say everyone is well composed mentally. A couple of players were over aroused to start but is normal. Jazz got pretty furious with the Italians biggest and tallest player. That big and tall Italian (that I know personally from my days when I played in Paris, France, and is a really cool guy when you get to know him) is so tall and huge that in the team debriefing after the game, Tyler said that at first, when he saw him for the first time, he actually made him pee his pants. Jazzy’s fury was nothing compared to the fury that Mikael Poulin had later that day. Mikael Poulin and “footplate” Tyler argued in a discussion that lasted 45 minutes about Pasta. Tyler kept telling Mik that white pasta did not have any protein and Mik was saying that white pasta did not have lots of protein but did had some. The debate just made Mik furious. I was not there when that discussion happened but apparently it was hilarious to see cause Mik took to heart and got really mad at Tyler. The coaches gave us the rest of the day off. I just stayed in my room with Dirt and watched a few more episodes of 24. Brett Nagata, my stunt double and team physiotherapist, gave treatment to Dirt and Tyler joined us for the episodes. Honestly, I missed most of the episodes because I kept falling asleep.

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DAY 3: IF I Was in Star Wars, My name would be Dave Sleepwalker.

So tired……
As I mentioned in the ending of yesterdays Blog, the part saying that I was going to back to bed, hoping to get a couple few hours before this mornings practice, well….. that dint happen. I stayed in bed tossing and turning till breakfast time at 7 this morning but could not once again fall asleep. When I did get up and went to breakfast, someone else from my team was already there before me. It happens that I wasent the only one struggling with Jetlag, Bo Hedges woke up very early also. At least he was able to keep me company for breakfast this morning. I was a little disappointed though that my usual breakfast partner, Chad Jassman, was not there. At the BT World Paralympic Cup that was held a few weeks back, Chad was always the first one awake with me for breakfast. I thought maybe we could of started our own breakfast club. Maybe he will be ther tomorrow morning, with Bo and I. I’m predicting that Bo will be joining me again tomorrow for the same reasons.

Today was the day that the players had the first 30 minutes of practice to practice our warm-up. After consulting with a few players, we decided to go back old school for our warm-up, which starts with a 10 minute 4 corner lay-up Drill called Ziggy-Star. We then went for another 10 minutes of 2 lines shooting and finished off with 10 minute of stretching and ball passing. The reason why we went back to this warm-up is because it takes lots of concentration, mental focus, and lots of communication. Some players feel like it prepares us more to start the game sharp.
The other 90 minutes of practice consisted of fine tuning some plays, some big men shots and some defensive motions such as the triple-witch. We also fine-tuned our Man advantage principles. Luckily I was able to take some Rhodiola and some energy cubes by Nutrilite, natural sport supplements that helps mental and physical fatigue, because I don’t think with the lack of sleep that I have, I would have been able to last the practice. And luckily we had a 3 hour break after practice where I was able to have lunch and relax while watching 2 more episodes of 24. Jack Bauer impresses me every time.

We had a second training session today that went from 3 to 5. Like the first one, the first 30 minutes was the players warm-up time. We kept it like the morning session. The other 90 minutes was different though. The coach had us work on our pressure and anti-press. And we did some scrimmaging. I am very happy with the team. We still keep improving every time we get together and the team is coming together very well. I am very confident that we will be ready for the beginning of our title defence. At the end of the day, we had dinner, and after Bo, foot-plate Tyler, Mikaël Poulin, the only other québécois on the team with me, and me went for a long walk outside to keep Bo and I awake as long as possible. I saw a lot of very nice places that I definitely will have to go back and take some pictures. There was a nice shopping mall, a market, and some very nice churches. To go there it was not a problem. It was down Hill. But to get back, it was harder for my 3 teammates because it was uphill the whole time. A very steep up hill. Pushing their wheelchairs must have been exhausting. Bo must be exhausted because even before he started pushing up-hill, he and I were already contagiously exchanging huge yawns. He too has not slept at all today. No naps, no nothing. Even though he was tired, he was the firs one up the hill. It was Mikaël that was struggling the most. He must of been trailing 20 feet behind everyone. He blamed is slowness on not having any shoes on. Maybe tomorrow morning Chad will show up for breakfast with me and together we could go back and take some pics.

Well, that is it for today, I have to go to bed. I am sleepwalking right now. I have the feeling that tonight will be the night where I get a whole night of sleep. Oh yes, I forgot, today was the last day that we had practice for this week. Tomorrow we start a little World Cup preparation tournament and we play Italy tomorrow. Should be fun.
Anyways, have a good night.

DENG #15

PS. Jazzy owes me a drink now 

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Day 2: Good Start but tough staying awake

After only 3 hours of sleep last night, at 4am I was wide awake. My roommate Dave Durepos was also. That is exactly what I was worried about. That experience of Jetlag. 4 am and we could not fall back asleep. So Dave Durepos, got the idea of instead tossing and turning for nothing for hours, we should just start watching season 8 of the show called 24 and we did. After watching 4 episodes, it was time for breakfast.
At 9:30 we had our first team practice. It went pretty well. The Team had a great start. The Intensity was good for the first practice considering that everyone is Jetlag. The coaches made us run a couple of lineups for the first hour and the second hour consisted of just volume shooting exercises. I felt fine at this point.
After lunch, in the afternoon, Joey Johnson, Bo Hedges and I went to watch he movie Prince of Persia at the movie theatre 5 minutes from the hotel. The movie was good but I would of probably enjoyed it more if I had more energy. The lack of sleep was starting to get to me.
When the movie finished, Joey Johnson went back to the hotel but Bo and I decided to go shoot some balls and work on our chairs at the gym for a about an hour just before dinner where most of the rest of the team were already.
At 9 pm, our coaches had us watch a video session on the game we played the 3 weeks ago in Alabama versus our rivals, the United States. At this point I was hurting a lot, fighting to stay awake. The video session ended at 9:45 and I went direct to bed. I was knocked out cold unto now, it is 4 am again and wide awake. I really hate Jetlag. So I’m taking this time to write and call my girlfriend Gabrielle at home. Hope she is still awake. So I’m done for now and I will go back to bed, hoping that I can sleep a couple few hours before our morning practice.

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Day 1 : Arrival To my Land……. ENG-Land

Finally we are at the last stretch before defending or 2006 World Championships. The Team and I just arrived in Birmingham, England. I call England my Land due to an ongoing joke with my last name with former Canadian Coach Paul Bowes at our first visit at a World Paralympic cup a few years back.  It’s been a longer day of travel that I was expecting. It started with my flight from Montreal at 19:40 being delayed by approximately one hour due to apparently lightning. I did not understand because it looked to me to be a clear blue sky out there. When the plane finally took-off, I quickly understood why the flight was delayed as I experienced the worst take-off ever. In all my years of flying, this was by far the worst take-off. The plane kept going all crooked. It was going side to side, going up a couple feet, and dropping a few. It was scary. I really thought I was not going to make it this time.

In the middle of the take-off I noticed that there was actually  a really  dark cloud on top of us and the pilot was probably trying to stay under it before going higher in altitude. Once the plane did pass that thick and dark lightning cloud,  the  flight was back to normal and the  plane got to its higher normal altitude. Christian LaSerra, Team Canada new staff member in charge of video and my teammate on Team Quebec, was on the flight with me. We both suddenly relaxed as what could have been  a dangerous and dramatic takeoff, was finally under-control and the rest of the flight went smooth. The flight was 7 hours long and I was not able to sleep at all. I watched a couple of TV episodes and movies. I was disappointed to not being able to  catch some sleep on the  flight  cause I  new I was going to struggle with  the  first challenge of the journey. A challenge  that  I  always struggle  with…….  JETLAG. It always takes  me  at least three days  to  get over  it but  this  time I’m not too worried about  it  because we are getting  to the tournament lots of  days  ahead. Lots of time to work it out.

As we landed in London at 9 am, Christian and I were the first ones there. We had to wait for the rest of the team before taking a 2 hour bus drive from London to Birmingham. So In the mean time, we went for breakfast at a little restaurant and I searched for the Starbucks but couldn’t find one. My Mom wants me to  buy some Caramel Waffles that is supposedly sold only at this Starbucks here. I’ll Have to find some elsewhere.

Once all the team members finally got together in London, we were just about ready to leave for Birmingham by bus when foot-plating Tyler Miller, one of our  most promising rookies who is replacing one of our initial athletes Corey Smith,  found out that the airlines lost his bag. We left a few minutes after  his claim request was filed. He should get his bag tomorrow.

After a long sleep in the bus, we got to our Hotel in Birmingham, the Jury’s Inn. The place that we are staying seems  really nicer than when we usually  stay when we travel to Manchester. This city looks  nicer too. I’ll have to explore  more during our stay here.

I immediately went to my room  and  did the number 1 mistake too avoid when travelling.  I went  to  bed and slept  more hours. I’m suppose to fight  it  and  stay awake to get rid ofthe JEtLAg but I really could not stay awake. It got the best of me.  I woke up just in time for dinner than we had a team meeting. Jerry, The Head Coach, gave us a debriefing on the schedule of the few days ahead. He also gave the captains of the team the duty to find a team warm-up. So after the team-meeting, I talked with some veterans players of the team for their input. It’s a more complicated duty that I  thought because there are different perspectives on what the use of the warm-up should  be. But after a few minutes of discussion, we are heading in the right direction. I will have to review it in the next few days.

Right now, we do not have access to free internet. It’s pretty expensive if we want to purchase it. 5 pounds for one hour and 10 pounds for 24 hours. I will have to wait for tomorrow to figure something  out or find some other place that has access to free internet if I want to publish this post. Even if I’m not tired at the moment, it’s getting late and I  have to try to get some sleep because tomorrow morning we have a early start. Practice at 9:30.

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Hello world!

Welcome to my new blog. I  am  starting  this  blog  as well  as  my  new  official website at mainly to  promote  and  inform people from around the world about wheelchair basketball at the elite level. An experience so  unknown to  many  and  lived  to the fullest by  only a few. I will be  leaving in 2 days for Birmingham, England to  compete with Team Canada to defend our 2006 World Championships.  This  gives the  perfect opportunity to  start this  blog  and  launch  my  website. I  will  be writing  these  next  few  weeks on  the  journey of  Team Canada 2010 World Championships. Hope You will enjoy.

DEng #15

PS. Oh yes, you can also find me on Twitter  at the_real_DENG

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