This past weekend, the ISP boys basketball team competed in their annual friendly tournament versus the American School of Vienna. The JV boys team played their first game against a team mostly made up of Vienna’s varsity squad and this presented the boys with a big challenge. However, the boys managed to play the tough game with both veteran and freshman players contributing to both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Unfortunately, the boys found themselves a mere one point behind Vienna as the clock went down to zero at the end of the game. While the boys were disgruntled with the outcome, they remained optimistic for the following day to show off their skills once more.
The next game consisted of the varsity boys from both schools. Both teams looked strong and were determined to set the tone for that game. While the ISP team was comprised of a different cast of players, the Vienna team had all but one player who played the previous game against the JV boys, meaning they saved their best player for that game. As the game began, the five starters from ISP began to move the ball with quickness and precision, with excellent shooting and ball control. Even when ISP had players from the bench enter the game, there was no difference in the determination and competitiveness of the play. One notable performance was that of junior Filip Sagl, who had quite a night with multiple three pointers, several fast break scores and effective contribution on defense with blocked shots.
At halftime the score was 30-23 for the Falcons. While the boys were glad to be in the lead, they knew that once the second half began they needed to stay on task. While they had been working effectively on offense, they felt their defense needed to be more dominant in the second half. That is exactly what they did once the next quarter began. Almost immediately the boys went on lockdown defense against the Vienna team. This began to pressure the opposing team’s point guard, forcing mistakes and turnovers that lead to the boys scoring 10 points in less than 2 minutes at the start of the third quarter, causing the other team to have to use one of their timeouts in order to compose themselves.
About halfway through the third quarter, ISP subbed in three of their bench players, leading Vienna to believe that they could finally get something going with their starters on the court. Nope! As Vienna began with the ball, ISP immediately read the pass of the point guard and stole the ball, leading to a foul and two free throws to give the boys all the momentum they needed to carry out the win. Their defense was solid, only giving up 16 points in the second half. Their offense was unmatched as the boys upset the Vienna team with a jaw-dropping score of 79-39. The boys felt the momentum swinging their way as they rested up for their game the following day.
Saturday began with the JV boys once again taking the court against a frustrated Vienna team who had lost the previous night against the varsity boys. Our ISP boys held a promising lead for most of the first quarter, however, the Vienna boys showed they were not going to be so easily outdone. As the next two quarters went by, both teams’ defenses stood out as being very effective, only allowing a combined 11 points to be scored by both teams during that stretch. The ISP boys found themselves down by 3 points at the start of the fourth quarter and were itching for the win. As time was winding down, with only two minutes left and no way to stop the clock from running, the boys were doing everything they could to keep Vienna from scoring. The boys scored a basket with 30 seconds left but were still down by one. As the boys were looking to finish the game with a W, they were stopped short by a foul from one of the Vienna players that would have set up the game’s winning shot. Unfortunately for the boys, due to the non-stop game clock, time ran out before they could shoot their free throws that could have changed the outcome of the game. The final score was 28-29. The boys were disappointed with the loss and felt the game could have gone a bit differently. Even though they lost, the team feels that there is much to learn from this game and hopes to improve the progress of the team as the season continues.
The final game of this friendly competition was a rematch between the varsity boys from ISP and Vienna. ISP was hoping to finish the competition strong with a second win against a Vienna team looking to enact some revenge due to their loss the previous day. As the game began, the ISP boys struggled to put the ball in the net as compared to their previous game where their shots looked as if they couldn’t miss. The boys managed to only score 10 points by the end of the first quarter and felt that more could be done to have higher efficiency on the offensive side of the ball, as well as keeping a composed defense that would prevent Vienna from taking an unwanted lead. As the second quarter began, ISP started to move the ball around more outside the key. With Vienna playing a zone defense, ISP were more effective by creating problems for Vienna outside the key, which gave the bigger players more opportunities to find space inside the key. A combination of strong defense and good ball movement lead to fast breaks that left Vienna feeling frustrated with their lack of efficiency on offense and defense. A performance to be recognized was that of team captain Akram Alekozai. He showed his leadership in his words, but also through his effective play on the court by creating opportunities for the players around him to improve. He contributed a number of three pointers as well as numerous assists. The boys played much better defense, holding Vienna to 3 fewer points than the night before. They went on to win game 2 with a score of 57-36.
Both the coaches and the players feel that this team has a lot of potential in their upcoming matchups and their next CEESA tournament in Bucharest. Although the players have much to improve on, they are satisfied with their team’s performance so far this season.
© Owen Seymour – The Falcon Post, 2017