Saturday, January 17, 2009

My name is Garto, Harry Garto pt. 5

Now for a little more about what we actually there for, the basketball. As you know if you were reading before, we dropped our first game to British Colombia. After a team talk and a rest we were ready to take on the Japanese team Myagi Max, confidence was steady and everyone was ready for a great game. Now obviously the Japanese was the home side, and playing in a stadium roughly the same size as Challenge Stadium that was packed is a great experience. This was the first time we played Myagi Max, as we played them in the bronze medal match. Their whole game revolved around one player, Rio.

Rio was a high pointer that sat extremely high in his chair, when you think of someone sitting down you think of their legs being at 90 degree angle. But for some reason Rio was able to get away with his legs being on more like a 135 degree angle. It is the way that his chair is designed and manufactured, and he obviously had quite an advantage since he was already a big guy. But as your probably thinking, the higher you sit and the least amount of arse you have sitting in your chair you are gonna be real unstable, and Rio spent more time on the floor than a Mexican on tequila.

We played Myagi Max and ended up going down by a small margin, once again the guys did well. But its the small things that let teams down, and its not always the same thing, or even the same person, but as in any sport the tidiest team generally win. We played Myagi Max in the bronze match and ended up going down by around 20, once again it was just the small things that count the most. Things you don't even get a stat for. Rio was a monster, but really nothing that we couldn't of handled. But its hard when you don't box out and let him get a rebound underneath his own basket, and he is also a player that can shoot from outside.

Galatasaray from Turkey, was definitely the team with the biggest cheque book. They had an entourage of about 8 staff which included coaching staff, mechanics, camera crew and owners. Wheelchair basketball is played professionally in Europe, and thanks to international players all over the world that play in the league, it is a fantastic competition. Obviously with such a league comes a lot of money and sponsorship, and that brings in your big players. Justin E who is a Wheelcat, Australian gold medalist and paralympic MVP, played for Galatasaray, along with American Matt S and others from clubs in Europe. They were a force to be reckoned with. We only played Galatasaray once and they put out their 'B' grade combinations out against us, which we were a little disappointed with as we had a young side that needed exposure against the worlds best. After starting off well and showing some great talent, we ended up going down by 30. Galatasaray had depth, and when they take off one of their best another one comes on. But from our own perspective the team did a fantastic job considering we had a young and fairly inexperienced line-up.

The grand final saw Galatasaray take on British Colombia, and i was torn between going for fellow Wheelcat Justin E's team or the underdog. Well being an Australian, Western Force, Sydney Swan and Melbourne Storm supporter i decided to go for the underdog. What a great game it started to look like, British Colombia was up and playing well and the Turkisk coach (who resembles Yogi B Bear) was doing his nut. At one stage Patrick A from BC was cut up and went to fall forward and put two hands it to the back of Justin E, who fell out of his chair. This got things a little tense and caused a bit or argy bargy between both teams. Unfortunatley before halftime, Patrick A while on a fast break to the basket, was grabbed on the arm by Matt S from Galatasaray. Patrick flipped and spun out of his chair, landing awkwardly and ended up breaking his wrist. A tragic end to the competition for Patrick A and BC, as they went on to lose the grand final. As also this was going to be Patricks last tournament.

Patrick A for me is a fantastic athlete role model. He was the type of player who did his job and did it well, he also went beyond to help out others where needed. Patrick also never seemed to let everyone know how good he was either, i believe a true champion is a silent achiever. I read an article by Mark Taylor, is an Alpha magazine that i picked up at Perth Airport on the way over. The article spoke about Mark and how he handled sledging and what he did to combat it. He went onto say that he never sledged but as an opening batsmen he copped a lot of it, and what he liked to do to combat it was dig deep and embarrass the opposition by playing well. Letting your actions speak louder than words. The Wheelcats base their team etiquette on not talking back, sledging or talking out of line during the game. It looks like we could have a whole bunch of silent achievers at the Wheelcats.

Well hold on for the next installment as i take you through a few shenanigans of this epic Japanese adventure.

In hoops,


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