This past weekend, the Varsity boys basketball team traveled to Bucharest, Romania to compete in their annual CEESA tournament. The boys arrived on Wednesday determined to make a splash this year after having come 5th the year before. ISP had a young team this year with more than half the team consisting of freshman and sophomores. The boys were ready after four months of training and hard work, and they were very eager to play their first game.
On the first day of the tournament the boys made a name for themselves. Their first game was against the Istanbul Dolphins, the team that had knocked them out of the quarterfinals the year before. The game was fairly close in the beginning; as both teams were playing hard to get that first win. The boys played consistently the whole time and started getting into a rhythm in the third quarter. A notable performance in this game came from Junior Filip Sagl who scored four three-pointers over the span of just a few minutes. After that point, the boys carried the momentum the rest of the way and managed to execute some very nice plays that gave them the win. The boys played very collaboratively and passed the ball to one another a lot. Their next game came against the British School of Bucharest (Eagles), a team not normally seen at CEESA events. One thing to know about Romania is that basketball is their national sport, so this team wasn’t going to be an easy task for the boys. At the start of the game, the Eagles got off to a large lead. The ISP boys felt that they weren’t able to start off the game as strong as they would have liked and they felt they had underestimated Romania’s team. The boys felt they lacked energy due to their fatigue as well as a depletion of team moral. The Eagles managed to keep a twenty point lead for most of the game, however the boys managed to cut this down at several points. A couple of their shots failed which resulted in their lack of motivation to get back on defense. The boys lost the game and were determined to get back on track the following day.
The second day was one of the toughest days the boys had during the tournament. They were up against Moscow’s team, and the boys were ready to move past their loss the previous day and get some momentum going their way as they entered the knockout game afterwards. The boys were up against a much older team who had several veteran players and were faced with a heavy fatigue from the previous day. The boys played a difficult game against a very good opponent and unfortunately fell to the Penguins. Even though the boys were disappointed with the outcome of their most recent game, they knew they had to focus on the next opponent. They were up against the 2nd seeded Budapest team who were eager to get into the semifinals. The boys knew this game meant they would either have a chance of placing in the top four if they won or at best get 5th place if they lost, and losing wasn’t an option. The boys played a very closely contested game that resulted in the game going into overtime. The boys rallied to come up with the win to put them into the semifinals against Moscow.
The third day began with the boys facing Moscow’s team, the same team they’d played the previous day. They knew they’d have to give this game their all if they wanted to get to the finals. The boys battled hard for four quarters and fell just short of a trip to the finals. They played a very physical game and showed they had potential for the coming years in CEESA. Their final game was against Warsaw for the 3rd/4th place spots. The boys knew this was their last game, as there no more games to come once the clock struck zero. This was it and the boys were ready. The first quarter didn’t get interesting until the final two minutes where ISP put up 14 points the than time span. The next two quarters were very much a back-and-forth type of play between the two teams, neither giving the other an edge. In the fourth quarter, ISP found themselves down by five points. However, the clutch shooting of team captain Akram Alekozai was enough to silence the Warsaw bench and give the Falcons the lead. The boys play superb defense for the entire quarter and ultimately, with three seconds left, the score was 55-52 in favor of ISP. The boys had to make one last stop. As the ball was passed in the boys kept Warsaw off balance and therefore their shot didn’t reach the basket with much accuracy. The clock ran down and the ISP Falcons won 3rd place at this years CEESA tournament.
The boys were very happy to end their season on such a high note and are eager to start their training again when the 2017 season begins in November. The boys owe their success to the work of Coaches Petr and Štepán who coached the boys very well over the course of the season. Congratulations boys!
© Owen Seymour – The Falcon Post, 2017