Aug. 19, 2014
Northwestern sophomore-to-be Nathan Taphorn just concluded a tour of Europe with a college all-star team. Here he details the second half of the expedition. To read his first entry, click here. For photos and videos of the team's games (coached by Northwestern assistant Patrick Baldwin), visit GlobalSportsAcademy on Instragram
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Amsterdam holds some interesting sites if you have never been. The moment we arrived, we all saw the red light district, which held all things illegal in the States. After walking through there on our tour, we headed off to sightsee and shop in other more States-legal shops. The food there included a sandwich or two with some frites (fries) and mayo to change it up a little bit. Although we saw just about everything you could possibly imagine in Amsterdam, we returned with everybody that we took with us, thankfully. Overall, I think that Amsterdam was something I would have never imagined to be true. Seeing things that you wouldn't imagine seeing in the streets of Chicago, New York, L.A. or anywhere in general were all there right in front of you.
Game 2 - Amsterdam
As the day came to an end, we were starting to get geared up for a game against one of the best teams in the Division 2 league over here. The team we played were all men with other jobs and families that they had to support. The game, however, was not like your average open gym back home. The "old" guys we play over here were faster, in better shape, and could shoot the ball no matter what size they were. The game was ugly, but we ended up coming back from a huge deficit to remain undefeated on the trip.
Friday, August 15, 2014
Game 3 - Brussels
After a very eventful Amsterdam trip, things slowed down as we went to Brussels, Belgium. The downtown area of Brussels was unreal. The pictures you may see online of tourist attractions for hotels and such is what we saw in person. The amount of design in the enormous buildings and churches we saw was insane and beautiful nonetheless. I loved seeing all of the hand carvings in each building that had on the arches and the tops. The best thing was the flowers in the middle of the square in downtown Brussels. The design was incredible and was made purely from flowers and grass. It is part of this time of the year in celebration of something important to the country (I can't remember exactly what). We also saw the statue of the little guy peeing, I thought it was kind of funny but some had no interest.
Downtown Brussels lead us into the night where we were lead to yet another bus ride to a game against another team that loves to share the ball and shoot like no other. The game wasn't really one besides the first quarter. After a lead in the second and hitting a few three's myself, I felt pretty confident that we were going to get to a hundred. We just missed the triple digits at 98 and headed back to Mechelen, Belgium with another win in the books.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Saturday started with breakfast and a long bus ride to somewhere to sightsee, like always. The bus rides contained nothing more than headphones, maybe a movie, smelly feet, and the task to somehow get comfortable in some manner just to get another hour or two of sleep on the charter bus. The next destination was Germany. On the way there, we had figured out that we only had 10 sleeping bodies and not 11. So, in order to fix that, we had to turn around and go back 15 miles from where we just came to get our forgotten teammate. No one really noticed we went back to get him until we arrived in Germany because everyone was counting their sheep.
Germany was interesting overall. We did not get to see much, which kind of upset me because I looked forward to seeing the country from which my ancestors originated and where some still live now. However, we did get to see the third highest church in Europe, the Dome. The church itself was unbelievably old and unbelievably huge. The outside almost looked burnt and although they were doing some construction to the top of it, the church still stood strong after hundreds of years. I found it incredible how much detail was in every inch of the church. Not one part of the church was either hand carved or had some kind of marking on it.
Game 4 - Germany
The day again came to a close and it was time to play once again. Before we go there, we got to see one of the other Global Sports Academy teams play against a club team. Our game came around and this time it was a little different. There was a DJ just like every other gym, but there were also drums that were played constantly throughout both games. I personally couldn't stand it, but we were able to block it out and get the win while I hit a few three's and finally dunked in a game (I either missed and/or got fouled on all others). We were happy to come out with a win against another good team from the Division 2 league.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Germany was sleep time for me and since we didn't have to leave the hotel until about one o'clock here, I got some extra sleep to go with that. Even though we have been here for about a week, I still haven't gotten used to the time here, which sucks unless you have two-hour drives to get to places. The second day in Germany didn't hold any sightseeing or touring at all unless you woke up early (I didn't).
Game 5 - Germany, Pt. 2
This second game in Germany was probably the best team we played all trip. The team was either a low Division 1 or a high Division 2 with guys that could shoot from anywhere on the court, could pass very well, and could run plays that we couldn't stop the first two or three times. The team was strong and experienced, and surprisingly spoke a lot of English. The game was tight until the very end despite the halftime score when they were up three. The game was over with about 0.5 seconds left when our teammates got a steal when we were up three and he made two free throws to seal the deal. The win was big, as we still remained undefeated.
Monday, August 18, 2014
The Germany round was nothing that you could call a "trip" because we were there for what felt like less than 24 hours, but just enough to get a little taste of what goes on there. We took one last trip around Belgium, which was in Burge. Burge was not as big as the other cities, nor as popular, but held some more great sites and old churches and buildings. Someone pointed out not only how old the buildings are but also how they are still standing after wars. The thing that amazed me was the designs in the churches and how much hand-carved detail was put into each inch of the church. A couple hours in Burge did us well and with a ham and cheese panini and a sausage roll, I was set to go back.
Game 6 - Antwerp
Our last game together was one that I thought would have a lot of energy and hype, however it did not. The team we played had won the Division 2 professional championship the year before, but they appeared like they had just lost their starting five and new transfers had just come in from another country. That was not the case. The game was a slower and horrible start for us, and since they made literally every shot they took in the first five minutes, we had dug ourselves in a hole. Coming off the bench this game and changing things up helped me see how they played, but they had wrinkles in their offense in which they ran silky smooth. The halftime score had us down by 17. The second half was a completely different story as we kept chipping at their lead until we got to a minute left in the game. The game had them up one and with a 3-point they extended their lead four. A steal and a dunk by myself brought us within two. A timeout and the fouling game ended the game as they made theirs and we failed to score like we needed to. The first loss of the tour came on the last day, which was both disappointing and sad considering we would never play together again.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The touring comes to a stopping point when travel day comes around and we have to pack up all of our belongings. We found out that because of the flight times, we had to leave at 7 a.m. with breakfast at 6:30. Because of said times, we pretty much made an executive decision to stay up all night at just hang together. We may have angered some of the people in the hotel, but I think they could have dealt with it. We get to point where it is time to meet in the lobby and take yet another bus to the airport. Upon arrival, we split up from the guys going to the East Coast and headed our separate ways. The long wait in the check-in line was there to kill some time. Security was a breeze and the egg and bacon panini with my Starbucks with "Dave" written on it hit the spot. The plane was the opposite of what the trip here was like although I was in an aisle seat, I sat next to two guys both over 6'5" and essentially ate my knees the whole way with the occasional drink cart drilling the side of my kneecap. A couple movies and a short nap put us at lunchtime with some kind of chicken -- it was food so I ate it. Thinking that the no-leg room thing was a bad problem, waking up to the guy in front of me reclined and the only open window on the plane was right in my eyes. So now I was not only cramming my body into a smaller spot than before, but the guy in 43H snuck a quick one on me with no sleep coming my way anytime soon. The nine hours finished with another movie and a short nap.
The Team Overall
The team that was made about a month ago knew nothing about each other besides maybe a first name and a school. That's all. As we came together the day of our first game, we were able to form a bond with each other that no other teams on the trip had. Other teams had guys from the same leagues and same areas, however we had guys from all across the country and we were able to come together as a team and post a 5-1 record against some of the best teams in European basketball. That's something special to me. It's not easy to come together in eight days, but we did while we had success. The guys I played with will always be in my phone as we bring something from this trip and build from it. Needless to say, I was honored to play for Coach Baldwin in a different setting with guys from different conferences.
One last entry and that would be to say thank you to all the people who have made this trip possible for me. I had a blast doing this and playing somewhere new. From my teammates to coaches to family and friends, everyone has sent some great support to get me to where I am today. I am truly blessed to have taken this opportunity and turn it into something that I can build off of on the court. Thanks again!
-- Nathan Taphorn
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