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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Games - Part 2

If you did not read Part 1, please read Part 1 before proceeding.

We had a poor start to our first game as none of the team members wanted to stay at the top of the key when we were on offense.  Everyone wanted to drive to the rim and the other team had many fast break points as no one was hustling back on defense.  At half-time, we managed to claw back and trailed by one.  The second half was ours.  We knew what we needed to do on defense and our offensive game opened up.  Our point guard did a great job attracting defenders and passing to the open man.  Lucky for me, I was usually the open man.  I was making jump shoots, driving to the rim, and drawing fouls.  I think we won by 10 points.  I could not sleep that night… I was so jacked up!  This is our victorious team after game 1.

Our next game was on Wednesday.  Since only six companies sponsored basketball teams, a win on Wednesday meant we qualified for the medal rounds.  We started off slow again but were even at the half.  The refs were told to call more fouls as the games were becoming too physical?  To be honest, our refs did not know how to call the game.  Think of it like this… combining English Premier League mentality (soccer for my US friends) with basketball.  It took us out of our game and we could not stop fouling.  You looked at the shooter mean and they called a foul.  It was not that bad but is was bad.  The guys pulled it together in the second half and we won by 5 points.  Again, I could not sleep.  I played the games over and over in my head… and sang the “Be Like Mike” song in the Gatorade commercial.  You know the one from the early 90’s…

Thursday was the semi-final.   Winner plays for the gold on Friday and the loser plays for the bronze.  Our great point guard went on vacation to South Africa and we did not have anyone to fill the void.  On top of that, the basketball tournament coordinator pulled all players to midcourt and told us he instructed the refs to call the games even tighter as some players were complaining the game was too physical.  WTF!

I never played that type of game before.  In basketball, you can’t tackle an opponent to the ground, hit the shooter’s arm, or grab someone to stop them from moving.  But, there is contact and the coordinator did not want any contact.  If you tried to block a shot, the ref called a foul.  No contact but potential of contact?  I hated it.  It was ridiculous.  I was mad.  After a rebound, I sprinted up court with the basketball and was destined to take the ball from rim to rim.  At the start of my fast break, I was greeted with a pulled hamstring.  I called time out and took myself out of the game.  I needed some ice and wanted to get back in.  We needed to win to get to the gold medal game, and I was the point guard.  After 10 mins on the bench, I was back in.  On an offensive rebound I was greeted with a hard foul… even on my hard foul scale.  I came crashing to the ground on my elbow.  I did not want to take myself out again… We managed to cut our deficit down from 13 to 4 points and it was the fourth quarter.  When the clock showed 0:00, we lost by 6.

Friday was the bronze medal game.  I was hoping for rain so the courts would be unplayable.  My body was banged up with a pulled hamstring and bruised elbow.  In addition, I don’t like to play without contact.  The flow was terrible.  During the game, the emotions of not being able to play true basketball got the best of us.  I had to break up a Nigerian shouting match between one of my teammates and our coach.  We lost by 20+ points.

I liked playing with my team and like basketball.  But, I don’t like playing wussy basketball.  It was a new experience and I learned from it.  You can post your comment on what that learning was…

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