This was my first time in Bad Aibling for a basketball game. Game was due to 14:30 and it had been raining all morning with temperature around -1 to -2 degrees Celsius. My usual concern was that we arrive in time, so I hit a WhatsApp message to the group to watch the weather conditions. It was in our favour and till it was the time to get going temperature rised over zero degrees and it was enough for the roads not to be slippery anymore. Just to be sure I started my journey a little bit earlier, I still had to travel through Munich and do some personal chores. My plan was to arrive 30-40 minutes before anyone else. As it always is with weekends, the most of the problems were on the roads south of Munich leading to the Austrian border. As it turned out, it was a wise decision not to take the Autobahn, but travel the local roads instead.
Before my arrival I didn’t know the story of the place. I had heard some history that there were American Forces around the Rosenheim, but nothing concrete. Upon my arrival I noticed a huge complex of buildings which looked something more line hangars than sports complex. A vast area consisting of various building with big numbers on them and football fields near them. When I went into the gym and saw the sign it was clear then, that this place had some military history. As one of my hosts explained to me later, just before the game, we indeed found ourselves in an old hanger which was used to store aircraft back in World War 1! After the World War 2, americans stationed themselves (in 1950’s onwards) in this complex and after they left it was re-build in a basketball court. I must admit – it added a little bit of magic to this place. Anyway, it was a game time.
Before this game U14 Hellgirls found themselves in the Place 4 on the standings and Bad Aibling Fireballs were on the Place 2. We were missing some of our good players and well, Bad Aibling is a good team. I first met them in Klagenfurt where we lost with -3 points by getting the last shot in, but on the line. You can read the story HERE. Second time was the first game of the season at Hellenen Dome when we lost 36 to 51. They were purely better both times than we were. They did their preparations right and I would not await anything else from a club whose Women’s team (1. Bundesliga) plays higher than their Men’s team (1. Regionalliga). This would be a hard game for us, we had to bring our heart into the game and in the last games it was lacking. This was the game of stepping up.
Besides of us getting the first foul in the minute 1 (shots missed) and getting the first basket – girls from Bad Aibling Fireballs dominated us. No head in the game for us and they wrecked havoc upon our defense. No heart. They put 12 points up till the minute 8, when we would start to give some answers in the defense and some points in the offense. Yes, they were technically better, but we were not that dumb as we played and we had our conditioning right. That much I knew, it was just stupid decisions and no focus. Bad passes, no trusting to oneself, not trusting own teammates, not listening to coach, no heart to fight for the balls. That is the reality. Facts.
And that is good. It was time for them to learn important lessons on the teamwork and individual responsibility. Taking individual responsibilty to make the team better. Important concepts had to be learned. This game marked a start of a journey they would experience under my guidance. Road to team with a heart.
We went down in the first quarter with 16 to 6. It was looking bad. It wasn’t. Team did a lot of bad stuff in the first quarter, but at the end of it they started to stop the opponents and Bad Aibling made just two baskets in the last two minutes of the first quarter. Time to play.
It is always hard to play against stronger opponents if you are lacking some of the good rotation players. Rotations are all off and in order to keep the team above the water you have to sacrifice individual likings. That’s how it goes, this is not the little league anymore. They got it. Hellgirls went in the second quarter and delivered blows back. It looked like a good basketball game now. We were fixing our throw-in strategy against their full-court press and using simple, plain offensive tactics. Play fast, create situations and penetrate the defense. Go to the basket. This lead to teams scoring alternately. This was pretty much how the rest of the game went. I could see that opponents were not awaiting this hard of the game after the first quarter where we slept in and they dominated. No sir, but they don’t know us, I will push the team for the blow. Love these kids, they found teamwork and heart in the second quarter. So we fought and won the second quarter by putting up one basket more than our hosts. 17 to 19 win for Hellgirls and 25 to 33 on the scoreboard going in the halftime.
We had to took our chances. They went from playing seperately in the first quarter to playing like a palm with fingers together in the second quarter. We had some talk back in the lockers and it was clear that to get a chance at this game we had to make a fist. One team, together and delivering the blow. Trust. Heart. So we went out. In the first half of third quarter our offense did stagnate and opponents had a good chances for scoring and used them. At the minute 25 we had taken four freethrows and missed all of them. It gave a strong confidence to our rivals and they thought they got us. No sir, we blew when they let their guard down. Scoring went up, I pushed the girls to be more confident and take responsibility. It resulted in some good offensive plays for us and team made baskets. It looked good again. Also defensively we did better and managed to stop their penetration more frequently. Girls still had to work on their footwork and staying on the field, not jumping so much. Being more careful on crossovers. Other than that – very good job. We lost this quarter with -3, 18 to 15, scoreboard showed 51 to 40 for Bad Aibling Fireballs.
Eleven points in a basketball game isn’t that much if you can put the defense and offense together. It somehow wasn’t happening for us today. Many missed baskets, too many. Five missed freethrows in the fourth which we desperately needed to pressure their mental game. Our hosts managed to hold around 10 points (and more) lead for the rest of the game and we just couldn’t get to their throats and put this one down in our favour. Hellgirls went on to win another quarter, but just with +1, 14 to 15 for us. We lost the game 65 to 55, though.
To be honest – this was an amazing outcome for us, given the circumstances. We lost the game, but we won something more useful. Understanding. And we started to find the fight in ourselves. Big day for our U14 Hellgirls.
We came with nine players and some of the good ones couldn’t be there. That’s not why we lost, though. Opponents were better prepaired and more skilled. We slept in the first quarter and that cost us ten points. We missed 20 (!!!) points in freethrows. That is a possible win right there alone. Nah, we need to be better in our preparations. At first we need to work on our mental game, be focused, be fighting. With heart. Then we need to take this focus and heart and develop ourselves individually. Take responsibility for the good of the team. Put it together and we will come out victorious. Back to the drawing boards, we are going to have some rough and fun ride.