DAY 13: Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I know I havent been writing as much as the beginning of this journey besides little game recaps. The main reason is that I am mostly focused on the games and trying to rest as much as possible. We’ve been staying in our rooms mostly in dead time just laying there and for myself, visualizing. Today we are playing another team that we know very little about. Turkey. Watching the team video that our coaches prepared for us, we felt confident that we were going to be able to win this game.

In the warm-up of the game, I felt something strange with my shot. I was powerless. The ball felt heavy, and the basket felt higher when I shot in warm up. I had to force the shot just to make a free throw. I tried not to let it affect my mental part of my game so I blocked it out of my head. When the game started, I hit the first shot. It was a 45 degree post shot outside the right side of the key. My shot felt fine then so I thought I was ok now until, my team called a play for me where I had to shoot a 3 and hit nothing but AIR. Thats right, I shot a an Air ball so bad, that I thought it was going to fall short right in the middle of the key. I felt it right on the release. A couple of possessions later I shot another Air ball but his time it was a 15 footer. Yep, something was definetly wrong with my shot. There was no power at all in my arms. I know why though that happenned. Since we’ve been in Birmingham, I changed a little my pre-game routine. I’ve added way more stretching. A mixture of static and dynamic stretching. I over did it this time doing way more static stretching. That is why before a game or workout, we usually do dynamic stretching and keep the static stretching at the end. Research shows that long static stretching unhooks the part of the muscle fibers that is responsible for muscle contraction which in return, diminishes muscle contraction speed. In other words, it diminishes power output.
Anyways, the Algerian gave us a challenge in the first half. The scouting reports on Algeria showed us that 80% of they’re points come from they’re #5 player. He can shoot from anywhere. We even shot shoots like 5 feet behind the 3 point line and hitting that shot on a very high percentage. The kind of shot I love taking. We had the chance to witness one of those long 3 pointers of his when he successfully, effotlessly, made one at the buzzer of the end of the first quarter. We had a team objective to keep him at 18 points in the game. He had 38 points against Mexico and we chose 18 because that is what he scored on Australia. That objective was going to be hard to achieve because after the first quarter, he already had 15 points.

At the half with the Algerians, the score was tied 31-31. But we did not panick even though the score was tied because we knew we were in a worst position yesterday and prevailed. And we were going to do the same on this day but this time, it was another line-up that was going to do it for us. Dirt came right at the first possession of the 2nd half and made a 3 giving us the lead and the tempo to win this game. That shot gave us momentum and confidence to our team to keep moving, while Turkey just dissapeared slowly. Adam Lancia added a game high 21 points. The lineup that started the 2nd half played so hard on Offense and Defense, that not only that we won the game, they kept our objective to keep #5 to 18 points a success cause they shut him down and he never came back in the game. He finished with 17 points. Even I, when I saw the floor again, I seemed to have regained some power and made some shots.

Thats the beauty of our team, we are not a one player team. On any day, anybody can step up on our team. I love this team.
We won 69-60.

Tomorrow it will be a tough game as we will face our nemesis, the Australians.

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DAY 12: ALLEZ LES BLEUS! ALLEZ LES BLEUS!

On this day, We faced the French. In the morning we had a video session. Clips that showed they’re strenght and tendencies. France has ont of the fastest players in the world. A friend of mine named Sofyan. He is a class 3. The coaches named him as the number 1 threat for France. I was excited to play France since I played 1 season there before. I did make some great friends there but my experience as a basketball player, I din’t like at all. Mostly because of the way my team in Paris ran things and they’re ways of viewing the game. Anyways, enough of the past and let’S come back to the NOW.
France has a very fast team and have some decent height. It was not going to be easy. And tough the game was because we were losing by 4 at half time. We struggled with the full court press they put on us and it seemed that they were hitting every shot they took. We knew that was going to happen even though they lost by 3 to Mexico the day before. Teams tend to do that to us. They tend to come on hitting everything when they shoot the ball against us. I kept telling my teammates at half time, just keep doing the little things and thats how we were going to win this. So we did. We were able to go on a run on France and never looked back. That lead was created by textbook basketball team work which gave us lots of transition lay-ups. Richard Peter, The Man called BEAR, had a awesome game shooting 8 for 10 with 7 assists. We were really happy with his win. A Win that we can use for the futur that shows and remind us, that if we keep playing the game fundamentals, we can overcome any challenges and make it easier on us. Team Ball won this game.

You can find my french interview on this link:
http://www.bloghandicap.com

and Joey Johnson’s interview on:
http://www.wheelchairbasketball.ca/en/video.aspx?v=c4Y21qMTqcUhLUDeu4RFz1_0YgjbD9Gh

we won this game 67-55.

Later that night, we went to the movies again with a few of the guys. BO, Dirt, Ross, Joey, Tyler and myself. We went to see Predators. I was pretty dissapointed. The casting was horrible. It was a good team bonding outing.

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DAY 11: ALLEGRIA!!! Oups I Mean Algeria!

Wow, I apologize to all readers. I havent updated my blog in a few days now. I’ll make it up to you. Well on day 11, we faced Algeria.
A team that we did not have a chance to play in the past so we did not really know them. The coaches staff did get a chance to get a hold on some video tapes of previous games that they’ve played so we could come up a game plan. We finished with the score of 87-61. We won this game. I’m really proud of how our team is playing. I finished top scorer of the team but it was basicly because of all the effort of our lower classes such as Abdi, Chad and Tyler, working really hard helping me getting as close to the basket possible. So my points are basily all 2 feet from the basket. There should be a stat in wheelchair basketball for sealing so the lower classes can get more recognition.

This game is a real confidence booster for us because on day 12, We face France. A team that is filled with talent that has overall fast speed and height. I know most of the players on that team because of the year Iplayed in their league in 2006.

Here is a link to the post-game interview that my Teammate Bo Hedges made after this game.

http://wheelchairbasketball.ca/en/video.aspx?v=RmaWtqMTrUbIYBuLn11VoboL2WB0hnhv

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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
http://www.wheelchairbasketball.ca/en/video.aspx?v=RydGhqMToPjZSRlii5hJ0luYBKYotQxB#ooid=RydGhqMToPjZSRlii5hJ0luYBKYotQxB

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: http://www.gbwba.org.uk/gbwba/index.cfm/wwbc2010/ 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:
http://www.wheelchairbasketball.ca/en/tournament.aspx?id=1989

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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