Candice Duprees USA Basketball Training Camp Blog - Day 12
Ok, so Sunday was the third and final game and we played against the home team. That morning we had shoot-around at 9:30. We got a good stretch in, did some shooting drills and went over the scouting report for UMMC. After shoot-around I went back to my room to take a quick nap before our pre-game meal. Iím definitely a creature of habit especially on game days.
After pre-game it was time to get game ready. While on the bus to the gym I always have to listen to my iPod. My artist of choice before this game was Jay-Z. I went back and forth between his American Gangster and The Black Album. Once we were at the gym it was time to lace up my sneaks and warm-up for the game.
I went out and shot a little, and stretched before it was time to go back in the locker room for the pre-game speech. Everyone knew this was a must-win game. We knew the fans were going to be out of control (in a good way) and the officials werenít going to give us any calls. As we ran out onto the court all we could see was a sea of orange in the stands.
I'm not sure if you've ever been to a sporting event overseas, but the fans here are DIE HARD. It almost seemed as if an army of orange was in the arena backing UMMC. All we heard were chants, drums and people cheering and yelling at the top of their lungs. Although the fans weren't cheering for us, I love playing in that kind of environment. It gives you an adrenaline rush and gets you amped up to play.
Initially, the game was pretty scrappy and the score was close at the end of the first quarter. But before I knew it, I looked up and we were up by 20. Other than winning, our main goal was running them into the ground. And that's exactly what we did! Needless to say we won the game by 15 points, 78-63. I ended up scoring seven points and grabbed five boards in 21 minutes.
Afterward they had the trophy presentation. All of the participants received a medal...ours being gold of course. Then we were presented with the first-place trophy. Along with that came all of the confetti. I've never seen so much confetti in my life. They just kept shooting it out all over us and the court. It was a great experience. We headed for the locker room to get changed before heading to the hotel.
I'm the type of person that enjoys doing nice things for people, so I decided to give one of the fans my shoes. I've never seen someone so excited to receive them and that definitely put a smile on my face. The fact that someone on the other side of the world was excited to get my shoes is amazing!!
Following the game we went to a dinner that was put together by UMMC. It was nice to interact with the other teams and hang out with each other for one last time. We stayed up all night and before we knew it, it was time to head for the airport (at 2:45 am).
This wasn't my first USA Basketball experience, but it was by far the best. I don't know that I've ever been around such a good group of people. I learned a lot playing for Coach Auriemma, and got to know players better off the basketball court that I see all during the season. This trip was filled with a lot of memories that I'll never forget!! Thanks for keeping up with me and Iíll be sure to get updates throughout the winter as Iíll be playing in Slovakia.