Well the season is well under way here in Blois, France. The NM1 championship has begun and it has been very exciting so far. We are 4 games in and I have quickly learned that there will be no nights off here in France. The league is very competitive and many teams have announced their intentions to move up to Pro B but there are only 2 spots available for promotion.
The start of our schedule was favorable to us as 3 out of our first 4 games were at home. Of those 3, 2 of those games were against 2 of the teams that are trying to move up including Brest who moved down from Pro B last year. We have an edge at home because the fans here in Blois are awesome. They are easily the loudest and most dedicated fans I have played in front of in my professional career. The stands were packed for our pre season games and it is standing room only for our regular season games. They really are the 6th man out on the court.
In our first game we played against St. Ettienne. They are a very talented team with some very strong inside players. The game was back and forth and tight throughout the whole time. We eventually pulled the win out with a score of 72-68.
Our second game was at home against Brest. This was going to be a tough game for us. Brest is a team that was built to move up to Pro B as they had no intentions of moving down last year. Sometimes teams are very talented and for some reason or another are relegated to a lower league because things just don't click. This was another game that started out very tight for us. We were up by 12 at the end of the 1st quarter. Our 2nd quarter didn't go so well. We didn't play very good basketball and were passive on offense and defense. Brest closed the gap a little bit and were only down by 2 at the half. We played better in the 3rd quarter and we blew the game open in the 4th and won by a score of 89-69.
Our 3rd game was on the road in Paris against Centre Federal BB. This is an interesting team because it is composed of the under 18 French National Team. The team is at a sports institute and the players practice basketball there as well as go to school. In addition to the basketball players, the best athletes in France practice and train at the facility in Paris. The basketball team is very talented but not physically there yet. Their talent alone will win them some games this year as they do every year.
We had a rough start with them on the road and just could not get it going on offense. We were down at the half and could not get things clicking. The young players hit some tough shots in the beginning and it gave them some confidence. We were down at the half but eventually won the game by a score of 65-61. A win is a win and we will take it any way we can get. So after 3 games we were 3-0 and sitting in 1st place with 2 other teams.
Our 4th game was against Saint Chammond and important because it was at home. Saint Chammond is a team that is a little difficult to prepare for because they are composed of a bunch of players that don't necessarily have positions. I wish we could say that we went out and played a great game and got the win but that was not the case. It seemed like our poor offense carried over from the Centre Federal game. In addition to the offense, we didn't defend the 3 point shot very well. It is a shame because our fans were very into the game.
I can't comment on the game without also comment on the happenings inside of the game. Our point guard was thrown out of the game for fighting while the other guy got to stay in the game. Our coach also was hit with a technical and a few other calls did not go our way. These things might have distracted us a little bit and thrown off our rhythm. As professionals we need to work through these things but in the heat of the moment it can really change the momentum.
We ended up losing the game 76-62. It was our first loss of the season and hurt a little bit. I hate losing and it really bothers me. Hopefully we can correct some things in practice and can get back on track in our next game against Souffelweyersheim. That game is on the road and if we can pull it out will be a big win. I am just looking forward to getting back on the court and get the ship steered back in the right direction.
The pictures were taken by our team photographer Tuan Nguyen. You can check out more of his pictures here. Also, you can go to our team website and see action from our games. It is a great site and very well run by the awesome people of Sidamo and ADA TV.