OUR FIRST NATIONAL TOURNAMENT
By Steve Carfino
I have been around plenty of basketball in my years but mostly as a player. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, my parents drove me all around Southern California to ball wherever the good games were. There were the combination of established summer leagues like the Crenshaw League, Olympic Development League and the Compton College Night League. Pickup games could be found anywhere, but usually were on college campus to have the best players in the area come to them. Places like UCLA, Long Beach State, or if you like complete chaos try Venice Beach.
My kids have for the most part grown up and lived in Australia, so they’ve played with clubs in basketball associations. I’d say we are the typical sporting family, kids that have tried every sport and performing arts a little too. At about the age of 15 my son chose to hang up his baseball cleats and concentrate on basketball. At about the same time my daughter of 17 gave up basketball to dance.
Now that I’ve given you a little backround of my journey from being a kid playing, to being a parent of children that play the game. Nothing prepared me for the Nations that were played in Ipswich, just outside of Brisbane.
Man, it was HOT! I’m talking 35 plus degrees every single day of the tournament, in a stadium that was hotter inside than outside. On the positive, it was like going to a basketball reunion. Paul Maley former NBL great from Basketball Australia, Gail Henderson and her husband Brian watching their daughter play for NSW, former Brisbane Bullets coaches Bruce Palmer and Dave Ingram and of course my good friend and old teammate with the Kings Ian “Moose” Robilliard. Talking basketball with these people is a treat you don’t get every day.
First game was against South Australia, who shot the lights out and beat us comfortably. My son played well, shot it at 50% rebounded well and had no turnovers.
Next we played the mighty Vics, and they were loaded, with 4 players who are on the Australian Team. We played with them for two and a half quarters and then they just pulled away. That Victorian team is a rare combination of talent, toughness and chemistry, an absolute pleasure to watch. As for my son, he didn’t play well, looked tentative, which is like blood in the water against the Vic sharks.
In our next match Queensland hadn’t won a game either so they were just as desperate. The game went down to the final shot, we pulled out a gritty two point win. Clay looked rattled against their extended pressure and then lost it in all the other areas of his game.
Now after two bad games I’m not quite sure what to do, should I talk to him about doing the effort areas in the game to get his confidence going. “Go to the offensive glass, get a deflection, run the lanes and be a lock down defender” or do I say nothing and let him work through it.
I went with saying nothing, to his credit he played great game against Western Australia. I was proud of him for working through the evil self doubt. More importantly I was impressed with his teammates making the effort to lift a struggling player.
A great experience all the way across the board, thanks to the coaching staff and all the parents who have clearly put in the time with these young men who represented the state of New South Wales.