Lost the first match to Denmark 57-48. They were very good athletes. Tall, lanky and skilled. Their team included the “Danish Basketball Player of the Year.” They played the Reading, Pennsylvania Varsity Boys Basketball team on Thursday (Pennsylvania’s State Champions) and only lost 51-47. That tells you how good they were.
We got down 13-2 early and it was clear we hadn’t practiced or played in weeks. As the game progressed we gradually got our sea legs under us and battled them pretty much to a draw for the remainder of the game. We were just as athletic, it was simply they were much bigger than us.
In our second game we played Maryland. They again were much bigger than us, but this time we came out ready. We lead 25-24 at half and then took off in the second half outscoring them 25-12 to coast to a 50-36 victory. It’s nice to get a win against a high caliber team. They weren’t ready for us (much like the Denmark game but in reverse). The boys, coaches and parents are pretty pleased.
In our first contest early Sunday afternoon, we beat the Downingtown Heat (a suburb of Philadelphia) 57-54. They were up by 9 with 7 minutes left to play and went into a four corner stall (no shot clock in AAU ball – very frustrating). After exchanging a couple baskets over the next 5 minutes, we were still down by 9 (and they were still stalling) with 2:18 left to play (we had no timeouts left). This is when the Cinderella magic started. We scrambled to outscore them 13-1 in the remaining 2 minutes with a barrage of threes and several athletic, “all-out for the team, dive on the floor, scrape your knees” steals to shock everyone in attendance. The Crossover Hoops representative (the organization running the event – similar to North Pole Hoops in Canada) was already markering Downingtown into the semi-finals, but before the ink had dried we had staged our comeback.
This was our second victory over an American Club team in this tournament. Some of our boys heard the American players/fans talking before todays match that they were not going to lose to a Canadian team. ESPN was giving quite a bit of media coverage to our U19 National Men’s team Saturday night after they surprisingly knocked off the U19 American Men’s team Saturday afternoon in the World Championships. Some of these American citizens must have been feeling a little scarred by that upset I guess – I’m sure they didn’t feel any better after our comeback. (Canada went on to beat Italy in the finals today).
In the late afternoon game, we had to play Global Squad Denmark in a rematch. We found out from their head coach that 4 of their players have National Team experience with Denmark. They are big, athletic and skilled. Much like the first game again them on Saturday we got down early 9-0. After calling a timeout and discussing strategy in the huddle, we decided we had nothing to lose if we changed our defensive strategy. Either the gamble would work or we were going to get blown away. We decided to switch to a more scrambling, trapping half court defence to pick up our energy and disrupt the Danes offensive juggernaut flow. Fortunately, the gamble paid off. We finished the half on a 16-10 run and trailed only 19-16 at halftime.
We continued to alternate our defensive systems (1-3-1 and 1-2-2 half court traps, man-to-man, 2-3) in the second half and this frustrated the Danish attack. All of this lead to us taking a 41-36 lead with 3 minutes remaining and shocking the audience in attendance. (The Danish Global Squad and the Australian Global Squad were odds on favourites at the beginning of the tournament to meet in the finals). With a minute to go, the Danes hit a three to take a 43-41 lead, but we replied with a three of our own with 40 seconds remaining to regain a 1 point advantage. The experienced Danish squad then methodically ran time off the clock and found a wide open shot from 3 with 25 seconds remaining. It was an airball that unfortunately found a way into becoming an offensive rebound. Had the ball hit the rim (or backboard) we would have secured the rebound and likely the victory. The Danes pulled the ball back out again, worked the ball around the perimeter until they found another look from 3 and this one found the mark putting them ahead 46-44. With time ticking down we attempted a desperation 3, but it was not to be.
Our boys so impressed the Crossover Representatives that they specifically asked to speak to us after the game about potentially starting a Global Squad Canada with ours boys for next summer. (Global Squads are assembled high level basketball talent from various countries that travel to the US in the summer, train and live at the same facility and tour the Eastern US coast playing in exposure tournaments for NCAA/NAIA/CIS schools).
Global Squad Denmark did indeed go on to beat Global Squad Australia in the finals by 4. This means we were one airballed rebound away from knocking off the eventual “Global Challenge Tournament” Champions. Brockville Basketball has come a long way in the past decade.