Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Season and More What's Different

Education System

This is one of the more interesting differences that I wanted to learn more about and share with everyone. Below are a few differences I had learned and have noticed.

One of the most notable differences between higher education (university/college) in European countries and the US of A is the price of attendance. The cost of higher education in Europe is much lower than the United States. Of course some of the lower education costs found in Europe are offset by generally higher taxes. 

A second difference is that in Holland and much of Europe, there are varying levels of High School where students are placed based on test scores and overall academic performance. If I understand it right, in Holland there are typically 3 levels of “high school” education. I think this is interesting as it increases competition among classmates and entices students to work hard.

A third difference is how the education system is structured. In Europe, there are fewer private schools and more public schools. Given this and higher taxes, there is a much more standardized and rigid public school system in place that does not give as much discretion to teachers and departments as to how the material is taught to students. In theory, this more rigid system allows a more accurate evaluation of students and ensures that they are placed in the right level of High School and also direction of study.

One final difference is that in the U.S., the education system is more in the liberal arts category covering more subjects where the European system requires you to choose what you want to do or study (i.e. business, sciences, education) at a much earlier age and hence study that subject more in-depth. I have a feeling I would have liked this system way  more as I know my parents would have preferred me actually interested and engaged in learning a subject rather than trying over and over again to beat my high score in solitaire on my ghetto windows phone or playing Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time and Mario Kart during Accounting class!

Sinterklaas & Christmas

Sinterklaas is celebrated annually here in Holland typically on December 5th (eve) and December 6th. Specifically this day celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas the patron saint of children, sailors, and the city of Amsterdam to name a few... Listen to the hilarious David Sedaris clip or the random Sinterklaas rap below for a more comical  history of Sinterklaas.

Anyways... Sinterklaas is one of the holiday figures and traditions that inspired the modern day Santa Claus. How? While the Netherlands is not a huge country, they still participated in the colonization of the New World in the early 17th century establishing New Netherlands and specifically New Amsterdam as their primary settlement and thus passing on parts of the Sinterklaas tradition. So what happened to New Amsterdam anyway?

Yep, the Dutch were the first settlers of what is now New York…New York!. Some Dutch General paid a whopping $1,000 dollars for it even after you account for nearly 4 centuries of inflation! Quite the steal… of course this same general surrendered the land to the blokes that are the British 30 years later…too bad.

Anyway, historical connections aside, each family celebrates Sinterklaas in varying levels. Some Dutchies celebrate a mixture of both Sinterklaas and Christmas while others just celebrate one or the other. Some treat Christmas as a family gathering similar to the American thanksgiving. My family celebrates Sinterklaas for a week prior to December 5th. So every night before bed, our entire family leaves our shoes (sometimes the famous Dutch klogs) in front of the fireplace with carrots inside for Sinterklaas’ horses (I feel bad for the horses as I would usually put my basketball shoes by the fireplace right after practice!!) We then sing a Dutch song or read a poem to celebrate and head off to bed. During the night Sinterklaas arrives and places small presents in our shoes! Some examples are below...snacks on snacks on snacks!!

Peppernoten, Speculaas, and Chocolate Letter of 1st Initial!
While we are in the middle of our season, we do get some time off for Christmas: 3-4 days. Thankfully I will be making the trip back home to spend some much needed quality time with my family!! 

Happy Holiday's everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eredivisie & Cup Tourney Update


We are currently 4-4 in the league so far with wins against Rotterdam & Amsterdam (2 road wins) and Magixx and Groningen (2 home wins). The one game we should have won was the game on the road against Zwolle where we had all the momentum and then let the game slip towards the end. A lot of this was due to the fact that our experience level is not as high as some of the other teams and when you need a few crucial stops and smart decisions down the stretch, having been there before really helps, especially when you are on the road. In any event, we are learning from our mistakes and the next time we are in the position we will be sure to put the other team away.

Baby Up & Under against Rotterdam
So far our league has seen some pretty crazy scores. Teams including us are winning and losing by 20 and 30 points on any given night. I think that this is mostly due to the fact that it is still early in the season and players, coaches, and teams are figuring out how to play with each other and develop better chemistry so when things go bad they can come together and come back before it turns into these blow-out games. Another key factor to our league has been home-court advantage. While our first game at home against Leiden was a fluke (lost by 40), we have dominated games at home from an energy, spirit and execution perspective. While Holland is not very big, busing around the country to play teams the same night is tough on everyone mentally and physically. It is difficult to get yourself going right away and ready to play within an hour after stepping off the bus. This has been an adjustment for me as at SCU and almost all D1 programs around the country, the team travels the day before. We would usually have a shootaround or practice upon arriving at the arena and be able to get comfortable before we played the next day. For me, over the course of the season I will get used to this and am beginning to make adjustments such as no sleeping on the bus and keeping my mind focused by watching film.

As a team we are playing up to our coach and fans expectations but we all know that we can and will be much better as the season goes along. As I mentioned before our team is very young both in age and our experience level but we have plenty of talent that has yet to be seen. While everyone on the team has played elsewhere professionally prior to this season, aside from Storm and me, not very many of us have logged significant minutes. This has been evident for everyone on occasions including myself as I am still adjusting to playing in games for real and not merely in the last few minutes like at SCU. As a team, we need to work on our consistency as our team feels like it’s been riding a see-saw since our first game. Moving forward, the month of November is crazy for us as we have 10 games so this will be a good opportunity for us to get into a rhythm and gain confidence.

NBB Beker (Dutch Cup)

Last night we moved onto the quarterfinals of the NBB Beker which is the equivalent of the FA Cup for soccer in England. Games will be played throughout the year and the team that wins the cup is given the opportunity to participate or qualify for competitions throughout all of Europe. This is similar in soccer where you have both the winners of the domestic cup as well as the league who have the chance to compete in Euro-league style competitions. One problem that the Dutch league is undergoing is financial problems (budget constraints) as even the team who won the league last year (Den Bosch) wasn't able to afford playing in the next level competitions. The main reason for these problems stem from the '08 global recession as well as the current Euro debt crisis which continues to stretch pessimism across all of Europe. This is more true for sports (other than soccer) as sponsors have become more hesitant to put up money when the returns are not necessarily guaranteed. While I am sure I don’t have all the specifics on this completely correct, I think you get the gist of it! Our next NBB Beker game is in January.

Highlight of the game against Rotterdam!

Off the Court

My off the court routine has been more slow to what I had gotten used to in college and has consisted of roughly the same routine each day: wake-up, eat, practice, hang at the apartment, eat, practice, eat, and sleep. I have recently been getting caught up on my TV shows: Breaking Bad, How I Met Ya Muda, Burn Notice, Dexter and Revenge (Not just a chick show lads!). I am also reading quite a bit: some Dutch language learning books and some classic Tom Clancy books. Oh and I am currently waiting for COD & Halo 4 to arrive which I am sure will consume entirely too much of my free time. Aside from hanging in the apartment we have broken routine a few times to go eat out in Den Helder and Amsterdam for lunch and dinner which has been relaxing. The other night we went to go see Skyfall, the new Bond movie which was awesome! The one question I would ask is who was the Bond girl? M? That Asian chick who lived for 3 scenes? Anyways, for me, I used to watch all of the old bond movies with my dad so seeing the nostalgia card played so many times in Skyfall made me miss the good ‘ol days quite a bit!

Plastic Bottles

Like in many states around the U.S., recycling has become a more common and emphasized habit to adopt especially when you are in college and are consuming half your body weight in beer and caffeine drinks each week. Like myself and many others, I was always too lazy to save these cans and bottles to bring them to the local recycling yard to redeem my 5 cents per item. Instead I was usually relieved of this duty by Santa Clara’s favorite couple Can Lady and Can Man. 

I would include a picture of this wonderful recycling duo but for some reason the combination of keywords "Can Lady, Keystone light, Santa Clara, Ryan Alverson, and 30-rack" didn't show any results in Bing!!

Anyways, in Holland, recycling is even more 'subsidized' as each bottle (1.5 liters) can earn you up to 25 euro-cents per item...quite the deal!


Over the last several years, I have gotten used to missing out on being home for Thanksgiving. Despite this, I believe playing basketball professionally in a foreign country gives me plenty of reason to give thanks to family, friends, teammates, and all who have helped me along the way!

Shout-out to SCU BBall 

For beating St. Louis (Top 25 team) on the road the other night! One thing I do wish we had over here was ESPN and some magical way to erase this time difference so I could watch the games without having to wake up at 3am (which I might have to do when they play the most hated team in America...Duke!). Also congrats to Kevin Foster for breaking SCU's scoring the beginning of his senior season!

Until next time...Doeiiii!! (Dutch phrase for see ya later)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What's Different & Funnies (Cont'd)

What’s Different (Continued)…


My diet has not changed much. I am still cooking all my typical college meals with a few additional tweet-able works of art on the side. So far my most cooked meals have been:
  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs with peppers, ham, cheese (sometimes in Benson breakfast burrito format), toast with Nutella & peanut butter and Vruchtenhagel (Dutch sprinkles), and some yogurt or fruit. The Dutch don’t do breakfast as big as us Americans do!
  • LunchMostly sandwiches with some of my new favorite drink…SISI (better than Fanta in my opinion!)

  • Dinnerusually some chicken or beef with rice or pasta with a side salad or other vegetables. This seemingly bland combination of food is made much better with my #1 favorite sauce or topping: Sweet Chili Sauce!! Awwww yea!! (Pauly D Voice)

What is very cool about the Dutch and many other Western European countries is the fact that nearly everyone knows more than their native language and English. I will admit that it is difficult to learn a language in any environment when you are not forced to speak it each and every day and when you don’t grow up with it. However, in Holland, everyone speaks English very well even from a young age which I find impressive and equally annoying as I am not forced to practice my Dutch! Don’t worry mom, I’m still trying…

An example of this multi-lingual culture is exemplified by our coach Jean-Marc Jaumin who is from Belgium and he speaks…wait for it…wait for it...5 languages fluently: English, French, Dutch, Flemish, and Serbian. It is funny to see this as in the U.S. many of us have 2 or 3 languages on our resume but can really only speak and can carry on a conversation in one…English. I can attest that while my Dutch and French comprehension on paper or in a classroom style environment is still resume adequate material, I can’t say that I can consistently carry on a conversation like my teammates or coach can in their arsenal of languages. Of course part of the reason why my coach and teammates speak so many languages is due to the fact that their job has taken them to different countries for years at a time. Max (my teammate and housemate) spent 3 years playing basketball in Spain when he was younger and picked up Spanish very easily. In addition many of the European languages transcend boarders for a variety of reasons.

One of the reasons for this is due to the nature of the EU and its immigration laws established under the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992 which so happens to be one of Holland's oldest cities and the place I was baptized. Specifically, these immigration laws enable anyone that holds citizenship in one of the 27 member countries to live, travel, and work in any EU country of their choosing. Despite this treaty, it is still somewhat difficult to attain citizenship in many of the EU countries as each country has varying nationality laws. For example, I am a Dutch/U.S. dual citizen because my dad is American and my mom is Dutch. However, I was born in Saint Germain, France (basically Paris) and was not able to attain French citizenship using common methods because French nationality law requires you (like most industrialized countries except the U.S.) to have either a parent of French nationality, or attain citizenship through naturalization aka be 18 or older and have been living in France long enough to know that the phrase “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” is not a 5 star pick-up line! Although I’m sure the legendary Barney Stinson might have 2 words in mind in response to that last sentence...

In the end, it has been fun to see and hear a lot of languages over the last few months and hopefully I can get my Dutch speaking prowess to my mom’s level!

[A.D.D. SIDE NOTE: The comparison I often contemplate regarding the EU and its’ languages and cultures is imagining if each state or region in the U.S. spoke a different language! The interesting thing is if you throw away the Louisiana Purchase and a few other historic moments, you might have had a more proportional “America” existing today consisting of English, French, and Spanish speaking populations.]

Dutch Culture: Friendliness

In the 2 months I have been here in Den Helder, I have run several examples of what a nice and friendly community it is. I am sure that this is a combination of the city’s size and also the Dutch culture in general, but I continue to run into examples of both teammates and people who are willing to help you out. For example, on several of the bus rides, a number of my teammates Jasper, Quincy and Jeroen (a few I've seen) are always willing to share food they brought with them or let me use their phone to Skype home after a win. This is cool to see as this friendly, “thinking about others” attitude goes a long way, especially in a team environment and is one that I am trying to emulate more and more each day! Another example is that upon walking into a room or by someone, they give you a friendly smile or a "HOYYY!" (casual hello in Dutch) and ask you how you are doing and mean it!

Funnies: Trips to Amsterdam

Trip #1

A couple weeks ago, a few of us went into Amsterdam one night for Mark Hill’s 25th birthday. We got into Amsterdam around midnight which is about right on time by Amsterdam standards. The only problem we ran into was parking which was non-existent. After 15-20 minutes of touring Amsterdam, driving up and over the canals, we finally found what looked like a feasible parking spot. The only problem was that we either needed to bend our car like an accordion or we needed to make room. So whad we do? Seeing that the car in front had a little bit of room, we picked up the car’s booty and made room for our car! After a nice parallel park job we were on our way to the nearest club!

Storm & I.
Most comfortable chairs I've ever sat in!

Me, Max, Mark, Storm, and 1/2 Stefan!
Trip #2

On our last day-off, a few of us: Max, Quincy, Storm, Mark and I headed into Amsterdam for the day. We took the tram into the city as parking during the week and during the day can eat your wallet alive. Upon arriving, we started to meander our way through the downtown shopping area. I managed to improve my Euro-appeal quite a bit with a jacket and pair of skinny jeans! We then went to Dam Square where they had a carnival set up like in the end of the Greece movie which was fun!

Euro clothes fit me better!
Soon after we made a visit to see the ladies of the Red-Light district; *Prostitutes: I will reserve my judgment on this part of Dutch culture to history… Anyway, 20 minutes and €50 later…I’m kidding, I’m kidding! A few minutes later we were on the set of the new movie Dutch Street Hooligans...

Ajax sent Man City packing with a 3-1 victory in the Champions League group of death; only a few more games left! All in all a fun day and will definitely have more good stories from A'Dam! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Start of the Season

Some Links

Dutch Basketball League Homepage.

Den Helder Homepage

Below is what our practice schedule has been like more or less for the last couple weeks. We will sometimes have 2 or 3 games per week depending on the schedule. I will admit, I do miss the NCAA restrictions on how many hours per week each team can practice!!

MondayFitness (lifting) 9:30-11am ... Practice: 5-7pm
Tuesday Practice: 10-12pm ... 5-7pm
Wednesday: Practice: 10-12pm ... 5-7pm
Thursday: Fitness/Shooting 9:30-Noon ... Practice 5-7pm
Friday: Morning off ... Practice: 5-7pm
Saturday: Gameday
Sunday: Only day to sleep in…day free!

* I will usually have physical therapy 2-3 times per week too depending on how I'm feeling...

Game-Day routine:

The game day routine has not changed much for me since my days at Santa Clara. We still have shoot around in the morning (9:30am) and film sessions before the game. The only difference so far is that I don’t need to worry about school or work on the side which is a change of pace as I can now get a quality pre-game siesta in before the game! 

On all of our road games we take a bus which is consistent throughout the pro basketball leagues throughout Europe. Unfortunately for us, Den Helder is located at the very northern tip of Holland and so when we play teams like Weert who is in South Holland, it means a long 3-4 hour bus ride the same day of playing a game which can be difficult especially if you fall asleep in an awkward position on the bus. Although I shouldn't really complain as after talking to Mark Hill who played in Germany last year and Luke Sikma who now plays in Spain, they had to bus 6-7 hours for certain games. I guess it’s a blessing that Holland is smaller! We will usually get to the games 60-90 mins beforehand and unlike warm-ups at Santa Clara, our warm-ups are more unstructured in that everyone gets loose on their own until about the 30 minute mark where we do a quick team warm and then go into lay-up lines. And by far the best difference in warm-ups is that we are allowed to dunk!! Ayooo

College v. Euro-Ball: Some quick differences...
  • Four, 10 minute quarters with unfortunately no TV timeouts which I am also missing from Santa Clara now that I am playing heavier minutes!
  •  Referees are um …different. Many of the coaches in the states, especially one in particular would not have any soles left on their dress shoes if they experienced these refs! STOMP STOMP! Foul?! On who?! [Hopefully no dutch refs are reading this...]
  • Traveling rules in Europe are far more stringent. If I catch the ball running in transition or coming off a screen I need to immediately put the ball on the floor or else the whistle blows. The refs here look to see if you have picked up your pivot foot before the ball hits the floor which for me has happened quite a bit as they don't call this in the States so long as you do it quick enough! Seems rather elementary but when you've been doing one thing for 22 years and then forced to adjust in games, it can be difficult.
  • Less 1-1 and more team basketball.
  • 24 second shot clock…this speeds up the game a lot too. Still find it hard to believe that in High School in Washington we didn't have a shot-clock at all. Damn you Mercer Island and Coach Pepple for your meticulous motion offense that seemed to run for minutes at a time!
Day-Day Routine:

Like any job, I have already settled into a rather consistent routine day after day. Throughout the week, I will wake up at 8:30am to my phone's alarm ring which is currently the beginning of Ambition by Wale as Nokia’s alarm ring drives me nuts. I am still on the life long search for that perfect wake-up alarm ring. For breakfast, I will usually have a bowl of American coco pops, toast or yogurt, and a ham, pepper and cheese omelet...unless the following happens...

(I cracked up when I first saw this ad; happens to the best of us!)

After I munch breakfast down we will either have fitness or practice in the mornings. Fitness is different as there is really no structure or specific lifts that we need to do (unlike college where you have a strength coach directing you exercise by exercise). This gives me the time to fix my knees and do my 500 pull-ups to keep my beach body up to speed…oh wait, I’m not in California anymore, scratch that!

After the morning workouts or practice we will have some down time to go to the local Albert Hein (grocery store) to get food and try to avoid the candy/licorice aisle which was a problem from day 1… [Side Note: black licorice was practically born in Holland. Everyone loves it which is something I can’t say for too many Americans! I guess it’s an acquired taste. Maybe this is why?]

(Nom Nom Nom!)

After the morning workouts, (depending on when my physio appointment is) I will take a nap. In college, I didn't nap at all as I would have class or work but ever since coming here I have been extremely nap-prone, mostly because of the heavy 2-a-days. I will wake up in time to grab a sandwich and drink up before practice starts at 5pm. So far the toughest thing for me about practice is getting loose and ready for practice (especially if it is the 2nd practice of the day). I know this is not the case for all my teammates but for those who have been on my teams in the past know that I have been getting “old” since High School! Occasionally there will be practices or workouts where I will summon some youthful athleticism and throw down a couple dunks but as of late, “mystery bounce Phil” has not made any appearances as my body is still getting through some nagging injuries (knee, hip flexor) which I guess is part of the job. Still not sure if this physical "pain" is analogous to the stress or mental "pain" that I would be enduring if I were working in the corporate world but nevertheless it’s still a job that comes with its own set of responsibilities and there will be plenty of time to find this out later!

After practice is over, I will shower and stretch a bit. When I get home I will cook some grub or gobble up the leftovers and park myself on the couch in front of the TV where I am currently finishing up Breaking Bad or watching highlights from the Presidential Debates or should I say the “No I’m telling the truth, he’s not” debates. [Political Side Note: The two candidates or parties seem to be getting more and more childish with these debates. In each one, I can picture a political cartoon that depicts each candidate as young siblings and Martha Raddatz and Jim Lehrer as their parents who are trying to figure out who broke the lamp on the kitchen table. "Well he started it!!" is the kind of tone I get in these debates. Instead of discussing what needs to be done to specifically fix "the lamp", they continue to bicker over whose fault it was and which side is telling the truth. While I wasn't a political science major and probably don’t follow politics as closely as I should, I think  it’s a little annoying that to a certain extent I don’t know who to believe during these debates as both candidates have been known to well... mislead, deceive and lie. Instead I need to sift through the “non-biased” websites to find out which facts were truthful and which were misleading or taken out of context. I guess this is why I'm not a huge fan of politics!]

My Chris Matthews style rant aside, my after practice routine ends at around midnight when I hop into bed. As with many Bach’s in our family, I still find it difficult to get to bed before midnight. I don’t know who carries that gene but damn I wish I could get to bed earlier without the help of a girlfriend, parent or 6am practice!

Thanks for reading! So far we are 1-1 this season and hope to get win #2 against Nijmegen this coming Saturday at home. The next post will have some more specifics about the last few games and a continuation of What's Different topics!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What's Different & Pre-Season Funnies

Okay now with the intro out of the way which you can find on the next page, I can now start the stories, lessons, etc so here we go...

What's Different in Euroland & Nederville...


Most of everything I've needed to buy so far seems more expensive.  A few basic reasons for this include the fact that EU labor laws tend to increase costs of running a business (i.e. restaurants), taxes are higher (i.e. gas prices) and the fact that the distribution and retail chains are slightly smaller (i.e. U.S. has Costco, Europe doesn't) . As much as I would love to go into further detail as to why this is, I am no longer in school so I feel no rush to do so!


Ahhh yes censorship...As you can imagine Europe is full of many many languages, cultures, and policies. What makes Europe so different from the U.S. regarding censorship or lack thereof? In Europe, everything goes... nude beaches, "late night" movies, distracting billboards, and the occasional cursing in your favorite american TV show. Now you may not see this everyday, but even Stewie Griffin blurting out "f*** you vile woman" to Lois is enough to catch you off guard!

(Well put Seth MacFarlane, lighten up FCC. New Episodes beginning September 30th, yea buddy!)

Going to the Movies

So I was enjoying the new Batman movie for the 2nd time a couple weeks ago and about 80mins into the movie, right as Bane is about to announce that he was born in the dark and Batman merely adopted it...the lights come on and a big 'PAUZE' goes across the screen. Apparently it was time for a bathroom break for everyone in the theater or intermission. Despite the spectacular timing of the intermission, my bladder sent the theater a thank you letter after the movie as I had definitely had too much water that day!


'Nuff said... Heaps of bikes everywhere! One thing that has been difficult to get used to is that when you are turning into traffic or in or out of a round-about, you need to look in damn near every direction as you might run a biker over. They don't look to see if a car is coming from behind or to the side, they just keep riding like there is a pot of gold where ever they are headed. On a more serious note, I wish more people in the U.S. and myself would use bikes to go to a friends house or even go to work! 

Also, nearly every motor vehicle over here is a stick shift. Another reason to thank my parents who taught me to drive a manual from day 1. It was funny to see Mark and Storm (my 2 fellow American teammates) learn or re-learn how to drive stick again! 

Also, one of my dutch teammates Jerome is finally getting his license and it is unreal how long and expensive the process is to be able to attain a license here in Europe. You must take more than double the classes and drives and must pay more per class as well. 


18 years old. I don't know if this is better or worse than our 21 but it is interesting to see how the culture of drinking in Europe is different than the U.S., especially when one is in high school or "having their first drink." In my experience, I have seen far too many instances of U.S. teens who go off to college and end up paying a heavy hospital bill at 2am in the morning because they don't know how to handle their alcohol. Growing up with a European momma and having spoken with other parents, it is interesting to see the correlation between freshmen college students who can't quite survive syllabus week and parents who don't properly introduce alcohol into a teenager's lives. 

I believe the Europeans nail this balance between properly introducing alcohol to teenagers in a controlled environment while educating them on the dangers of alcohol. This becomes even more important when driving enters into the equation, but that is another topic for another time!


Skinny jeans, loafers, sweaters, vests, v-necks, and the occasional celebratory Dutch clogs. While the fashion is different here, I prefer it to most of the U.S. as people here definitely know how to dress and more importantly know how to dress with what they have!

Supposed Lack of Police in Den Helder

I have been living here for a little more than a month and in that time I have only seen a baby's handful of police officers and cars around town. For those who know how quickly I like to drive, I think it's safe to say that this is a good thing. [SIDE NOTE: I'll look up and see 100 on the dash and take my foot off the gas only to realize I'm only doing 60mph. Hence, the metric system over here at least makes me think I am going faster than I really am which slows me down a little!] 

(Volkswagen Up! Too bad it's a front wheel drive, no doughnuts!)

Basketball Practice

At SCU in the fall, we would usually practice for around 3 hours and given your class/work schedule you might stick around for an extra lift, shooting workout or film session. In Den Helder, we are practicing for 2 hours twice a day and we might also have lifting 3 times per week as well. My body might have been able to handle this had we not have been forced to practice on a bad floor (the Slenk!) for 2 weeks. Most of my teammates are getting on okay with this schedule but seeing that my knees have been aging five-fold for every year since high school, I had to stay out of practice for 2-3 weeks as my favorite knee-tendonitis had returned. Thankfully, it is slowly subsiding which is a good sign in addition to the fact that we are finally at our home gym (with a good floor). 

As for practice itself, a lot of the drills, competitions and routines have remained the same. We are a young team so have been working on our offensive and defensive principles and sets a bunch. We are also practicing with some of the guys on the U20 national team as we only have 9 guys on our roster, 4 of which, including myself have been out because of injury. Slowly but surely we are starting to become a team who knows each others tendencies, strengths and weaknesses and can hopefully get to winning come October 6th!

Quick Funnies & Experiences

Sniper in the building

We have had some funny fails or instances of people falling flat on their face over the last couple weeks. First we had my agent's young son "fall" flat on his face! I use " " as someone on our team may have tripped him...I don't remember who, I...uh... blacked out and don't remember! This little incident had everyone including our coach dying laughing. Ah yes laughing at someone else's expense...classic!

The second incident we had was during practice the 2nd week while we were doing a 1 on 1 close-out drill. Storm caught the ball at the top of the key with me guarding him and proceeded to slip and lose his footing twice doing the exact same move within the span of 2 seconds...needless to say that he didn't get up again to try the same move! That image will forever be remembered!

Foreign Gangster Accents

Because everyone loves hearing someone speak U.S. slang or rap to a song in a foreign accent.


Winning poker in Europe against my teammates is even sweeter considering that when everyone buys in for an even 5 or 10 Euros instead of $5-10, so I am now, in theory, 1.3x "richer"  ... as of last Friday!! 

Thanks for reading and I'll keep the updates coming.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Introduction to Euro Ball

For my 1st euro-log post, I'm going to intro you to how I get here. If you know the story, just skip this one as I am mostly doing this to help me get started as everyone knows Intro's are the hardest part to anything in life, especially writing...

How playing a sport professionally usually comes aboooot vs. my experience

From an athlete's POV, the ideal routine of doing this is for an agent to contact you after your last collegiate game in hopes that he can represent you and help you land a job playing professionally. For me, this could not have been more different despite coming off another career year starting every practice as a member of the prestigious Gold Squad scout team. Shoutout to Nasty, Prodigy, Gambit, Hypes, & Scott er Nick Lamson. Needless to say that per 40minutes of playing time, we all would have averaged a good 20pts and 10 of some statistical category per game... for me that would be shots 2 steps behind the NBA 3pt line!

I digress...thankfully I made contact with an agent who is well connected in the Dutch league. The reason for why I wanted to play here, is well...I had no choice given the fact that this was the only country I could realistically have an opportunity of playing as I have a Dutch passport and don't count as an "import" (thank you momma, always knew that it would come to good use!). An "import" player is simply someone who is not a citizen of the country where you are playing in. Each league has rules on how many "imports" each team can have. Anyway, after months of deliberation, I finally got word that a new team was entering the Eredivisie (1st division) in the Dutch league and was interested in having me over to try-out. So in the middle of my back-packing trip with my sister, Nicoline, and a friend, Amelia, I jumped on a plane and headed back for Holland.

Shortly after the try-out, I had a pretty good feeling that I would get a call or email in the next 2 weeks asking me to come back for another try-out or practice.What I didn't expect was that 2 days later, I would be sitting in a Hostel in Salzburg, Austria recieving an email with the subject line: "Contract Offer: Den Helder Kings." After several months of arduous email exchanges I had finally landed my dream job.

[SIDE NOTE: Specifically my contract was fairly typical in that the team provides you with an appartment, utilities, internet, a car, gear, healthcare insurance, some food allowance and they pay for your taxes. So since all of that is included in the contract, the money they do pay you on top of that is simply net income. If only they did this in the corporate world!]

After hearing the good news, I immediately called home to tell mom and dad and shot out a quick FB post reporting that I was no longer unemployed. 168 likes, several emails, and a fantastic couple weeks later I was sitting in my new apartment with my new teammate Max (from Amsterdam). Below is short vid of our appartment.

Jetlag and an annoying sinus infection made my first 3 days not very welcoming as I got a combined 5-6 hours of sleep and somehow managed to survive 3-4 workouts per day. Each morning for the first 2 weeks we started with a 45 minute run at 6am. The only thing that was missing was Denzel Washington banging on my door yelling "Wake up Gentleman, it's late!" (Name that movie!) After the morning yog, we had "fitness" or lifting as Amurrrika calls it, for an hour and then "shooting" (basically a practice) for another hour or two. Later that evening we would have another practice for 2-3 hours...this is the definition of 'the grind.'

The facility called Den Helder Sportcenter is where we practice and play. Lucky for us, the facility also doubles as a Spa,Wellness and Fitness Center which means we get to use the Sauna's, hot-tubs, steam-showers, and no joke a small tank where you can put your feet/hands in for small fish to pick off your dead skin! Weird and disgusting! Below is our home court.

Our first pre-season game was the Tuesday of the 2nd week of training against Groningen which will be one of the top teams this year. Despite the fact that we were banged up and without our 2 "import" American players, we played Groningen close only to lose by single digits. I played well, logging a full 35 minutes which  was damn near as many minutes as I played in my entire career at Santa Clara. ...Oh! and I finally recorded my first dunk in a game...weird I know!

A few days later we were told we couldn't practice in the Sportcenter as it was undergoing some issues with the city regarding fire and safety hazards considering it hadn't been used in 3 years. So for the first 2 weeks we had to practice in by far one of the greatest gyms of all time...

(Sounds like the place where prison inmates get sent if they punch a guard!)

So we were sentenced to two weeks in the Slenk! This gym came complimentary with a stone floor and hoops that could not be dunked on as they would break. No 360 windmills anymore...damnit! Eventually the inevitable knees nearly snapped in half and I had to sit out for two weeks!

We are now trying to get healthy again after the Slenk destroyed our legs. Our first game is October 6th against Leiden and in a few weeks I'll be sure to have another post...I'm thinking about highlighting what's different from living abroad vs. living in the US and what I've been doing in my spare time...

Love and miss everyone back home and looking forward to a good start to the season!! I'll be sure to post videos and photos along the way!