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!