Over a month ago, me and the infamous Public Enemy Basketball Team were pumped off our win at the 2017 Asian Olympics in Arlington, Texas. A week later, we headed to California for the San Diego Invitational. I knew the competition was going to be tough. Having played west coast teams in past tournaments, these teams are usually big, physical, and carry more skill than the competition we generally face in the Midwest. So it came as no surprise that we looked like one of the smallest teams of the tournament. However, this has never stopped Public Enemy from dominating tournaments in the past. Our team chemistry and individual talent overcame any advantages possessed by our opponents. But alot has changed since we last played in a tournament of this level, and competition of this caliper. And as you might have guessed, our team was put in a position it hasn't experienced in over a decade..
We did not win this tournament. In fact, we lost in the first round of the playoffs, Public Enemy's worst showing in recent memory. To make matters worse, the one team we beat during preliminary play ended up winning the whole open division. Above is a 1 minute trailer showcasing Public Enemy along with other teams competing for the Open Division Title. Although it's short, it shows the level of competition we were dealing with at this tournament. We definitely had our moments of exciting individual play. But in the end, it wasn't enough.
Each one of us spent some time dealing with the results of this weekend, processing the loss in different ways. To an outsider, it might sound like I'm being over dramatic about this whole experience. Why even care about losing an ameteur tournament in the first place right? Beyond simply loving the game of basketball, we all thrive on competition. Each one of us grew up competing while individually excelling in sport. Public enemy is the culmination of individual talent that created a team chemistry and mentality unlike any other team on the Asian Basketball Circuit. It's the reason Public Enemy enjoyed a decade of constant winning. Still to this day, expectations for this team is high; anything less than a championship is viewed as a failure. And now, after all that, San Diego provided as a wake up call. For the first time in a long time, Public Enemy has lost. The question is, now what?
Personally, my priorities have started to shift. I'm engaged, I have responsibabilities to my home, and if I'm completely honest I find myself searching for that same drive that use to fuel me to compete in these tournaments. It's hard to find the motivation to spend hours at a time every week to playing basketball. In the last few years, I can honestly say that I haven't really dedicated the time and effort necessary to compete with the level of competition we faced in San Diego. In the past, I could get by on work ethic, but as Father Time makes his presence known each and every day, I have to change my approach as I prepare for my last basketball challenge of the year: Chinese Nationals.
One things for sure, I was disappointed with where my skill level was at for San Diego, and I take full responsibilty for that. I promised myself days later I would not let that happen at Nationals. That motivation I've been searching for over the last few years? I found it. Unfortunately, it took losing in San Diego to regain that fire. However, I imagine I'm not the only one on Public Enemy that views this tournament as a wake-up call. Public Enemy has met a challenge it could not overcome...this time. There's no way this team after all it's been through, can go out like this. Who knows what will happen in San Diego next year. But for now, it's time to prepare for Chinese Nationals..