33rd challenge completed – Basketball

Marathon running over for a bit and onto the next Olympic challenge. I joined one of the Go Mammoth basketball leagues (Saturdays in Wimbledon) and had my first game of Basketball, for over 18 years, this weekend.

My Basketball experience is pretty limited, I played a bit during PE at school and due to the team needing 10 players to make a squad, I made it into the school team by default. Unfortunately, my basketball ‘career’ ended with a broken figure ahead of the regional county finals!

I was slightly apprehensive ahead of the first game as I realised that I would be playing alongside people that play regularly. Luckily I had a bit of time to practice and I surprised myself in my ability to dribble and shoot, which is definitely a skill that I didn’t have before.

2 halves of 17 minutes – should be easy considering my last sporting activity lasted over 3 hours. How wrong I was – running fit yes, but the short sharp bursts of basketball was taking it out of me. In truth I was working too hard. After 5 minutes, one of the players spoke to me about zonal-defense. The team isn’t the fittest, so they opted to play zonal rather than man-to-man marking. This was much easier and having spent the first few minutes running around like a headless chicken I was starting to get into the game. Firstly, with a few key interceptions, a couple of assists and then out of the blue, my first 2 points.

The team we were playing were more organised then us and we were 15 points down at half-time, but our team were slowly clawing our way back into the game. Second half was much better as we continued to gel. I added 2 more points, a couple more assists and plenty of turnovers. We ended up around 12 points down, but the strong finish has given us optimism for the next few weeks.

Ultimately, this is the challenge completed as I’ve taken part in a competitive game. I’m documenting it now to focus myself on moving onto the next challenge, but I’ll continue playing the next 8 games in the league and will have some photos in due course.

Week 2

The game this week was played at a much quicker pace than last week and as a result I found it much harder to get into the game. A managed a couple of interceptions and assists, but unfortunately no points this week. Nevertheless the team were on fire and we comfortably won 39-18 to move the second in the table.

Week 3

More success from the team with a solid 40-22 win. Again a quick paced game with little time to settle on the ball. Need to be calmer in possession. Got a couple more assists but still no goals since the first week. Defence seems to be my strength. First picture below of the ‘Dream’ team.

Basketball 'Dream' teamWeek 4

I couldn’t play this week but the team secured a solid week to move to the top of the table.

Week 5

We consolidated our position at the top of the league with a 45-25 win against the only team that has beaten us this year. Probably my best performance so far. Was a lot calmer is possession and set up a few baskets as well as making plenty of interceptions in defence.

Week 6

Couldn’t play this week but the team won a low scoring match 26-19

Week 7

The final group game of the year and after our rivals at the top of the table won, we had to follow suit to finish top of the regular season. Despite a pretty scrappy first half we were up by 10 points at half time and extended this after the break to win 42-20. I played a pretty solid game, finally ending my scoring drought and adding a few assists into the mix. Unfortunately my game ended about 5 minutes from time as I took a stray elbow right on the side of the noise and spent the next 10 minutes mobbing up the blood in the toilet. Nevertheless I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the semi-finals next weekend.

Week 8

Semi-final time. Having beaten Twickenham Tigers comfortably in the group whilst also finishing 2 places above them in the league, on paper this should have been a comfortable win. What transpired was a fast paced, end to end, slightly chaotic game with the lead changing multiple times. With just over a minute to go, they scored a 3 pointer to lead by 5. We would have to score at least twice to get back into the game. 2 points converted from a foul brought us within 3 and this was followed up with a quick 3-pointer. With 15 seconds to go we had 3 more points with a 2 pointer and one from the free throw line. We comfortably held them out during the last few seconds for a remarkable comeback and a place in the final verses the reds!

Week 9

Today was finals day. Could my basketball experience end on a high?

The reds are regular victors of the Saturday league and had played together for a while so it was going to be a tough match. Despite our key points scorer not being available we started the game well and led after the first few minutes. Unfortunately for us, that was as good as it got and the Reds slowly pulled ahead and despite the game being competitive throughout they kept a decent lead throughout and ran out 43-27 winners.

From a personal perspective I had a decent game and made my first 3-pointer, so was a good way to go out.

It’s been a fun experience, with a good teammates and I’m happy to have played a significant number of matches to understand a few new intricacies of the game and improve my game. Not sure I’ll play in the league again to could be tempted with the odd match.

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