Manchester Corporate Games 2005 - Part 1

From the top left clockwise: Sylvane, Oola, Archie, Hamish, Matt, Forest, Me, Nicholas and Rob.

This was the second time the Arup basketball team entered the Corporate Games tournament. Last year we went up there, not really knowning what level of basketball to expect. The result we came out with was 6th of 16 teams. Even though it felt like we practiced more last year, this year it felt better as a team going up there.

The rules asked for 9 players on the team. With Richard and Matt gone (Thomas was at a wedding), Hamish, Rob and Big Matt stepped in to fill the void. Last year the event was held in Newcastle. This year it was held in Manchester. It’s nice for a change of pace, although Newcastle does hold a dear and special place in our hearts as it was such a unique place.

Again like last year there were 16 teams present. The companies represented included : Vodafone, IBM, Ernst and Young, Velocity, KPMG, ARUP and of course the local group of mercenaries, Raiders, or Roccos or @$$holes (more about this delightful group of people later on).

Saturday -
Game 1.
So we started our first game in flying colours. We played our game, but we were noticably nervous. The team we were playing obviously lacked the skill and experience to present us with any real problems, but we just had those jitters that you get when you’ve been training for 3 months and the day is finally upon you. Once we got rid of those, that was it game over. By the second half I can’t remember if they actually put many baskets in. I think we let them put in a total of 13 points or something like that, to our 40 or so.

Game 2
This was a show for our defence. Rock solid is the only way to describe it, with the opposition putting in a total of 2 baskets in the entire game. The thing is though, although we could have gone even more, there really was no reason to tire ourselves. This wasn’t a question of humiliation, because that’s really not how our team works. We don’t go screaming in the teams face and trash talk them. We concentrate on what we’re doing and that’s it. Theres a reason I’m saying this as will become apparent later on when I talk about Velocity.

Game 3
Saw us against a team of better quality. The team fought for the victory, by shutting down their key players completely. At this stage in the game no one had tried to mark us man to man, and that’s exactly what we played throughout the tournament. This team had some decent players but those players couldn’t do anything because the d was that tight. However after the first half we weren’t in a comfortable lead, and that caused us to have to fight for the win. We ended up getting 2 technical fouls and a series of bad calls from the refs. It’s important to note the refs in this game were also the refs in our most important game against the Roccos which I’ll get to later on. Once the nerves fell, we gathered our composured and were able to get the win.

End of the first day saw us at the top of our pool, having won all three of our games.

From the other team present we felt that Velocity and Roccos were the favourites. Velocity was a team mainly made of young guys (oldest probably 21 or something), who had individually great athletic abilities. One of the guys there could seriously fly. His vertical was completely ridiculous, I’m serious, this wasn’t something you worked at. This was something you were born with. Unfortunately there was a lovely bit of attitude attached to that, which is not something you’re born with, rather something you work at.

So we watched them play an inexperienced team, and as you would expect they hammered them. The difference between the hammering we gave and the hammering they administered was in the attitude. It wasn’t enough to beat someone, you had to humiliate them. This as you would expect really didn’t sit very well with any of us.

A little later on they played our buddies from last year Ernest and Young. We only caught the tail end of that game, but Velocity actually lost. They obviously felt done hard, however it was clear from that point that while they were great individually they couldn’t play as a team. “You are a horrible boy” was how one of Velocity’s guy’s mum decided to describe one of the characters of the actual tournament (Yousef). A guy with lots of heart and a good all round player, that doesn’t stop at just playing the game, but adds a bit of tongue and cheek in his play, which is why we talked after the game. The words were bitter and stupid. No woman he’s not a horrible boy, your son is a twat. Basketball isn’t about the individual, it’s played by a team. One superstar can’t make the team win. As it turned out neither could 5 superstars.

What we didn’t expect was KPMG to beat them as well in the next round. So as it turned out rather than playing Velocity we ended up playing KPMG, and their superstar three point shooter..


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