Friday, January 16, 2009

My name is Garto, Harry Garto pt. 3

On the night of Day 2, being the manager, i had to attend a managers meeting. This was where we all decided what colour singlets we were to wear against every team, organize bus times and and ask any other questions we had. There was a spare seat at the table for each manager to bring someone else, ie. ass coach, captain etc. Lets just say i went on my own after asking everybody in the team to come with me. I wasn't alone however because each manager was assigned a translator for the week to help with the language barrier. Lucky me, i pulled the short straw of getting a translator that didn't speak much English, worst still this meeting was going to be held entirely in Japanese. I slowly managed to make my way through as the meeting dragged on. A pet hate of mine in general is when people speak a different language in front of me in Australia, although there is nothing much you can do because i was in japan. However a couple of times there must have been a joke because everyone started laughing, everyone except for me. When i asked the translator what was so funny she said don't worry. Pissed off to the max at this stage.

I'm not very much into meetings or conferences unless i am a presenter. As anybody would know that if you are a fairly active person and your body is at rest for too long, your body just thinks its bed time. A lot of people have seen me fall asleep in these sorts of things. Most memorable would have been in Ballarat at the U/23 camp where myself and Craig B propped ourselves against each other during a nutrition talk and fell asleep. A little embarrassing but we had just got off a plane and then driven for a couple of hours. But in the meeting in japan i made it my mission to stay awake, by drinking cold water, holding the ice in my hand and even stabbing myself with a biro in the hand. I did stay awake and i was proud of myself.

Also this night i met my room mate who had just arrived from Queensland, (just a joke it was nsw, but the same with the Nang joke, i pressed on the entire week). His name was Brett S, but for the blog i will use his nickname Sticky. He seemed like a reasonably normalish person, so all that i worried about earlier had gone out the window. Didn't get to know him much as before we knew it, it was dinner time. After dinner each night it was my role to go through what we were to do the next day. Included things like awake and meal times, bus times and any other event that we had to be at. It was a good thing to do as it kept me busy and thinking.

Also this night another player for our team arrived, it was Hiroshi. Hiroshi was a Japanese player that had played for the Wheelcats in the past in both the national league and in the KCC. I just thought it was handy having someone in the team that could translate for me and help us all out with the Japanese culture. A few days in with Hiroshi being there, and talking to some of the other players i learnt a little more about Hiroshi. He is a Japanese legend, they have made documentaries on him and how he paved the way for how low pointers play not only in japan but through out the world. Also being 42 and still playing basketball was outstanding. I also learnt that this was going to be Hiroshi's last tournament ever. Just watching Hiroshi play throughout the week was great, he is not only someone who can set up a score for someone else but can also pop a basket consistently for himself. Also just the impact he had on the public in general, he is a celebrity. People were always coming up to him and shaking his hand. It was an honour for me to be part of the same team as him.

Day 3 was a tense one, first game for the tournament. It was against 3 time gold paralympian Patrick A and his British Colombian team from Canada. It was to be a tough game but confidence was high and we had done all that we could to prepare. At this stage i want to point out that the majority of our senior playing group were in Europe playing in the professional league and one was playing in the Turkish team galatasaray. However the group that we had, although young and reasonably inexperienced did us all proud as they never stopped pushing and played their hearts out. Previously to playing British Colombia we played a match against a local Japanese club team, we had nothing to prove. Everyone got a really good run and we won. I wont go into the basketball side of things too much, but throughout the week all the guys did really well and i am proud to be counted in the same team as them.

We went down to British Colombia, after being down at halftime by a small margin, they pulled away in the second half to win by 18. Brant G and Sticky did a great job bringing our score along throughout the game and everyone did a reasonable job in defence. Patrick A sits high in his chair and has monster long arms, so every rebound in his vicinity is his, and he can also knockdown a 3 if need be. I will speak a little more about Patrick a little later on and what a role model athlete he is. But a highlight for us during the game was when Nang (who is a low pointer and therefore sits low in his chair) managed to get behind Patrick at one stage and as he bought the ball above his head to shoot, Nang reached up and stole the ball. Patrick turned around in amazement and looked at our bench as if to say "i didn't just get blocked by the smallest guy on the court". He was laughing and we had a bit of a chuckle back.

Before i wrap up this part of the blog i will just quickly run you through what i mean by low pointers, mids, and high pointers. As im sure some of you are thinking what the hell are you talking about. In wheelchair basketball you are allowed to have a maximum of 14 points worth of players on the court at any one stage, and each player is worth a certain amount of points. The amount of points a player is worth is based on their range of mobility. Most amputees are worth 4 or 4.5 points. Other disabilities include spina bifida, cp and car accident victims, these are the most common in wheelchair basketball. The less range of mobility you have in your wheelchair the less points you are worth, hence low pointer. I'm sure you can figure the rest out for yourself, but as i said before wheelchair basketball is very inclusive as obviously you cant run all your high pointers at once.

I feel as though this has been a long enough blog so watch this space for more Japanese excitement.

In hoops,


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