An experience for the ages
|The D3hoops.com All-Star Team won some hardware in Europe. Read below for more.|
Hampden-Sydney D3hoops.com All-Region selection Harrison George writes about the D3hoops.com All-Star Team's trip to Europe.
Wow, what an experience. This trip throughout Europe was an amazing experience for me as well as the other guys and we were all honored for being selected to participate. Our journey began with all of us meeting at the John F. Kennedy International Airport where we all traveled from our different locations.
We all immediately began talking about life as well as our careers up to date and we all had a fun time with one of the stories that "Mr. 89" aka Griffin Lentsch told us about the game that he scored 89 points which was a recurring theme throughout the whole trip.
As we later embarked on our flight to Paris, we had a connecting flight from the airport in Dublin, Ireland. We arrived to the connecting flight to Paris late due to a passenger being sick on the plane prior to take off in New York but we persevered and arrived in Paris a flight later and a few hours late.
Upon arrival in Paris we met the man in charge of helping with this trip named Lee as well as his friend and our tour guide Bob which was about 2 p.m. They both gave us the rundown about what to expect while in Paris as well as in Europe in general. Later we went to our hotel and Bob took some of us who didn't want to rest to the Montmartre.
I'm glad I decided to go and see this because it was amazing! It sat at what looked to be the top of Paris and it was a hike to get to the top but it was a beautiful sight to see. To me this was my favorite piece of Paris' history and I am glad that I was able to see it.
After viewing the Montmartre, we headed back to the hotel and grabbed our gear and headed to our first game which was against the Charenton Basketball Club. We didn't know what to expect since we haven't had any practice or anything of that nature. Also this team was older and had more experience with their players ranging from the ages of 21 to 39.
When the game began it seemed as though most of us still had jet-lag, but we were able to keep the game within striking distance trailing by two at the half. In the third period, St. Charles began to pull away and stretched their lead to as many as 16 before we cut it to nine by the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter we began to play the kind of basketball that we believed we could. We began to look like a well oiled machine and we were hitting all of our shots. The crowd was excited. Three pointers, dunks, blocked shots and what was a nine point deficit turned into a four-point lead.
Towards the end of the game with 30 seconds remaining we were down by two. Coach Vick designed a play and told us to execute and we would get the win. The play worked better than expected as Khobi Williamson received a pass along the baseline in which he gathered up and rose for a one-handed game winning and-1 dunk which we all celebrated and were glad we got the victory. It was a hard-fought and well-deserved win for us.
The next day we started our morning early with a guided tour of Paris by foot and by ferry. We all were able to take photographs of Notre Dame, the Pont Des Art Bridge, as well as the Louvre which stores the Mona Lisa -- which is actually a very small painting in actuality.
Later that day we were able to see the Eiffel Tower which was a sight to see. The tower was massive and I was able to cross it off of my personal bucket list.
Later the group split and we were given a couple of hours of free time to explore Paris on our own. Half of us went to the Napoleon Tomb while the others went to the Champs Élysées. I was a part of the group that went to Champs Élysées which was where all of the stores and shopping places were located. It was beyond amazing and after going to this I can see why Paris is considered the fashion capital of the world.
When we all returned to the hotel we grabbed our things and took the train to our next game which was against the Tremblay Athletique Basketball Club. This team was more around our age categories with players ranging from 18 to 30. This team was good and very athletic. We were able to keep the game tight but it was difficult for us remembering the new FIBA rules. Whistles seemed to be called against us every other play for traveling or something else. The game was hard fought but we came up short losing by about 15 points.
After the game the basketball club fed us and we were able to talk to the players and coaches about France and basketball. It was nice. That night some of us went out on the town for some more sightseeing as well as to view the nightlife. We were able to meet French people as well as other Americans around Oberkampf and Bastille which were pretty fun places to go and experience.
The next morning we all packed and bought souvenirs then took the Thalys Train to Rotterdam. When we arrived in Rotterdam, we then were bused to Den Bosch, Netherlands. Upon arrival to the Movenpick Hotel we dropped our stuff off and then were bused to the Dutch League Playoff game which was the championship series featuring the local Den Bosch Eiffel Tower team vs. the Leiden Basketball Club. Den Bosch led the series 3-0 and could close the series at home.
The atmosphere for the game was great. The fans were amazing and it was a sold out game. Fans used blow horns to distract the opposing team which is banned in America I think. Although Den Bosch lost this game they were able to close the series out in Game 5 and win the championship.
The next morning we left early to participate in a Dutch Police Academy tournament. This tournament was great for us and allowed us to bounce back after suffering a previous loss in the last game we played. During this tournament we went undefeated and we were able to put on a show for the Dutch citizens that participated and who were fans. We were able to go undefeated and 4-0 and showed a lot of highlight shots and about 20 highlight dunks and alley-oops on our way to the championship. As we transitioned into our night activities we went to a Jazz Festival which is one of the biggest attractions that happens in Den Bosch each year. It was nice and we were able to see the different kind of Dutch jazz and music that they listened to. It was a great experience for all of us.
The next morning we all ate breakfast and departed for a huge game against the Den Bosch Eiffel Towers Pro B Team. This was a high scoring game for both teams and we were once again able to wow the crowd with our athleticism and highlight reel plays as well as our balanced team effort. We ended up winning the game by six after leading by double digits throughout the entire game.
After the game we immediately departed for Groningen by bus and we arrived and ate. Groningen is a university city and is tailored for students so that was pretty cool to experience. The night life here was at an all time high. Some of the students said this was their last few times to go out before they began finals the next week. Also it was pretty cool because not only in Groningen, but throughout all of the Netherlands it would not get dark till about 11 at night and the sun would begin to rise at about 5 which was amazing to see.
The next morning we played in a small tournament consisting of three other teams, the Gas Terra Flames, The Dutch Military Elite as well as another Netherland professional team. This tournament was also another great experience for all of us. During this tournament we again went 4-0 and were able to win another championship while showing off our talents to others.
Fans even began to take pictures of us while we were playing and after the games and were thankful to see us a play. One man after the games even came up to us and said that he thought we were a professional team and that he had just witnessed the most dunks that he had ever seen take place in a game as well as long distance shots being made. Just hearing him say these things was great for us to hear and was motivation for us to continue with our trip and to keep winning.
After winning the tournament and taking pictures we were on our way to the city of Amsterdam, known for the Red Light District, but before that, we were introduced to something that was one of our best experiences of the entire trip. This was the Doner Kebab which I would recommend you to try if you are ever in Amsterdam or elsewhere in the Netherlands. The Doner Kebab is a type of sandwich that has lamb meat, lettuce, and a special garlic type of sauce that was placed on the bun. The Kebab was something that everyone on the team ate multiple times and it was delicious!
But anyways, back to the adventure beginning with the next morning where we took the Fast Ferry to Ljuimen for our last two games of the trip. The first game was against ST4R Ballers who were a team that had one of the Dutch National Teams players. This game began to be a close match all the way through the first half, but in the second half we were able to begin to pull away with solid defense and team basketball. We attacked the basket and were able to get the ball in the post which would lead to kick outs and to open shots for our shooters. Our opponents were never able to adjust to our style of play and we went on to win the game by nearly 20 points.
Our last game was by far our toughest due to many factors. The crowd and the refs were a big factor for us while playing this game. It was also the second game of a back to back. Early in the game it was relaxed and we were up by six throughout, but in the second half that drastically changed. The whistles were blown faster and the game began to get chippy. A five point halftime lead turned into a nine point deficit heading into the final period, with a few players in foul trouble.
We all huddled and regrouped and in the fourth quarter we found a groove and we turned up the pressure. We fed off of each other and the whole atmosphere and changed the outcome of the game. We attacked the basket with reckless abandon and we made it to the free throw line at will. We took the lead by one with 30 seconds left and they had their biggest lineup in as if they wanted to try a lob play but that did not work. Their point guard then launched a jumper with about 13 seconds and it was a scrum for the rebound. All ten players were in the pack fighting for the ball and Khobi was able to come up with the huge rebound in which he threw to Matt Devine who was able to ice the game at the free throw line. As the game was over the crowd gave us a huge ovation which was welcoming to us.
After our last game we all were able to relax and explore the beautiful city of Amsterdam which is amazing and I recommend all to visit at least once in your life. This trip was a great experience for me and I am humbled as well as honored to be selected to the D3hoops all-star team. Not only was I able to meet different people all throughout this adventure but I was also able to experience it with my teammate Khobi as well as my head coach. The trip was unique and will be something I will be telling others all throughout my life.