Monday, January 19, 2009

Kerama Islands Basketball Tournament

After heavy recruitment for this year’s basketball tournament I decided to play with Geruma because they asked me first and, in my mind, had the best chance of knocking off Zamami 青年会 (young men’s association), who wins everything.

We crushed Zamami’s old men’s team in the first game, then miraculously beat Zamami 青年会 in the second game by six points, and beat Aka 青年会 in the third game by just three points. I scored 30 points in the first game and in the last singlehandedly opened the game with an 11-2 run for my team in the first three minutes.

[Geruma's women's team en route to their championship. Ayano, the English teacher, is preparing to throw up a long air ball]

Since we’d reached the top of the bracket I thought we’d just won the championship, but it turned out we had only earned our place in the game against the winner of the loser’s bracket. This was a dumb system, as we’d already beaten everybody.

We had to play Zamami 青年会 again and before it started, I’d mostly written the game off. Zamami 青年会, while lacking the height of our team, has much greater depth and thus no useless players on the floor (all other teams offer this disadvantage). Plus they practice together for weeks and have plays.

But our team gelled well and opened the game up 16-2 and never looked back. Zamami got desperate and began fouling to send us to the free-throw line every time. One guy also crushed me on a layup and got a technical foul for it (I was later told if that hit had happened to a Japanese guy there surely would've been a fight.. so thankfully I am peaceful). I missed both the free throws because I was in a daze. They also began heavy full-court press, but since I’ve been practicing on Zamami the last two weeks, I prepared the Geruma team for this and we scored more points by having a press-breaking strategy. We were nearly flawless in winning by about 14 points.

[Geruma swept both the men's and women's championships. The woman to my left and I are holding our MVP trophies. A pretty amazing feat for an island of just 69 people!]

An interesting strategy that developed out of having three tall rebounders was to give the ball to our useless guy, who would throw up (and badly miss) a three-pointer. We would rebound and then make the easy short basket.

During the last game there was a play where I had to dive into the crowd to save the ball. I landed on a lady and sprained her wrist. Afterwards I was really apologetic, but she was still pretty angry so I just stayed away. Today I brought her a loaf of cinnamon bread as reconciliation. I told the English teacher, Ayano, that it was for the woman I hurt during the fall. She said, “Which woman, the one with the sprained wrist or the one with the hurt nose?” So I had to cut the loaf in half.


The Hansen Family said...

Your last paragraph is hysterical! Way to go, turbo!

Son of Higashi said...

So the guy from the YMA, what do you guys say when you see each other on the street? I'd say he was pretty lucky.

Gratz on the win, and don't worry about the old ladies - if they didn't want to have been in on the action, they wouldn't have sat so close.