It is not every day that a young man gets to dedicate a full month to his dream of pursuing basketball excellence. Adrian Nonis of Penang was chosen as the ASEAN Top Baller Award winner this past spring and given sponsored entry for the summer of a lifetime to attend Global Squad 2017.  If you haven’t heard, Global Squad, founded by John Alexander, brings high school talent from around the globe together for a month of intense professional level basketball development. This includes multiple daily skills training sessions, team practices, strength and conditioning, film study, and basketball theory for a full month as well as participation in NCAA accredited tournaments. Global Squad provides guys like Adrian the opportunity to improve their game, chances for college scholarships abroad and perhaps the chance for professional basketball success. The exposure and dedication of time alone aims to build not just great basketball players but confident and disciplined people for society.  What follows is Adrian’s first hand account of the first week of his Global Squad journey.
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WEEK 1

Day 1 — 1st July

 

I’ve made it… I can’t believe I’ve finally made it. After what seemed like an eternity, I am finally here in the Philadelphia International Airport. My flight was long and tiresome; and although sleep proved as something almost impossible, the seat by my window served as a good neck rest as I watched movies or simply closed my eyes. I pray that The Hill School has comfy beds, and after a little bit of research of its tuition fees, I am sure of it. I was quickly greeted after touching down from the airplane by two trainers — one by the name of Isaiah, and another whose name I have already forgotten. Not only was I slightly shocked by their sheer size of a towering 6 feet 7 and 6 ft 3, but also by their kindness and warm personalities. They then led me to meet another 4 boys who I travelled back to The Hill with.

 

The journey to The Hill was around 45 minutes, but the wait was certainly worth it as they school’s campus almost tripled my school in size. The facilities are elite and well maintained. I was quickly then brought through orientation where I received the keys to my room, my practice jersey for the camp, and other accessories that I would later on need during the camp.

 

The remainder of my day was spent in the gym of course, shooting around by myself, making friends along the way. Not many people had showed up yet probably due the different schedules of flights, but as I looked around, one prominent difference between players in Malaysia and here — Size.

 

As I sit in my bed and reflect on my first day, feelings of nervousness and anticipation cannot help but creep into my mind and body, stirring my imagination of what tomorrow may bring.

Day 2 — 2nd July

 

Breakfast started at 7:30AM in the morning followed by what previous campers here call “evaluation.” First of all, campers are broken into “red groups” and “gold groups” where the younger kids are in red while older kids are in gold. Campers in the gold groups were then further broken down into smaller groups where each individual is tested on their vertical, agility, and speed. To my surprise, I proved as one of the most athletic campers here, setting the best time in the speed and agility station while my vertical demonstrated 36 inches.

The day was then followed by scrimmages between players in the gold category. Surprisingly, I actually played very well, scoring one of the most on my team; however, as mentioned before, size proved as a hurdle still left for me to adjust to and eventually overcome.

Day 3 — 3rd July

 

Like the previous day, breakfast started at 7:30 in the morning which was then followed by what is called “morning sessions.” The morning sessions were broken into 4 stations of which involved ball handling, shooting, weightlifting, and a classroom session.

The training overall wasn’t anything very new to me, except for a few concepts in shooting. At Global Squad, they emphasize on a shooting technique known as the sweep and sway. This technique requires players to turn their feet away from the basketball, aligning their shoulders and elbow to the rim, while dropping the shoulders while releasing the ball. Lastly, players should sweep their feet giving them a nice arch in the shot.

 

The ball handling drill, although familiar, was intense and extremely tiring, going non-stop for at last 30mins with short 2 mins breaks to run and get water… My body is not used to this kind of intensity, but looking ahead, I can only imagine the player I will be once this camp is over.

 

The classroom session was also nothing very surprising as the director, John Alexander, talked about fundamentals and the importance of training aside from pickup basketball and games. He emphasized that players need to get as many ball touches and repetitions as they can.

 

The day is basically filled with training, beginning at 9 in the morning, all the way to 12:30 where time is allocated from lunch. Training resumes at 1:30 till 5:30 where dinner begins, resuming at 7:30 all the way to 9:15, concluding training.

Day 4 — 4th July

 

Just like yesterday, the training followed a very similar routine; however, the afternoon practice was allocated to “team practice.

 

Anyways, in today’s team practice, we introduced ourselves and did basic shooting drills I think mainly for the coach to get a feel for the team as he silently and carefully selected who his top players were.

 

Hopefully I made a strong impression… In a good way of course.

Day 5 — 5th July

 

I am beginning to feel the soreness in almost my whole body now from the intensity of the camp. My quads prove as the main point of irritation and grief probably due to the immense strain on our legs from previous days. As mentioned earlier, I have never experienced a training as intense as this…

 

In terms of team training, I feel like we haven’t done a lot of drills related to the team, but more of individual things such as shooting and individual defense. The only thing team oriented, however, are a few out-of-bound plays that my coach, coach Ford, has introduced.

Evening sessions were cancelled today as all gold teams travelled to a place called “Reading” where we watched our Red Dragons play. Even though the opponents were younger, the standard of basketball was already evident in their athleticism and speed. Guys who were only in the 10 and 11 grades were already getting close to dunking…

 

As I sit in my bed writing this now, my lower back, my quads, hamstrings, and calves are sore. Very very sore…

Day 6 — 6th July

 

GAME DAY!!

 

Today’s schedule followed very similarly to previous days; however, morning sessions were much lighter as we had games in the night. Instead of doing full court ball handling drills, we did half court stationery drills. Instead of lifting heavy weights like we usually do, we stretched. Everything was taken a notch down, and in all honesty, I was very very grateful for it.

 

My body has been spent, and I honestly cannot imagine what the next weeks are going to look like. They need to provide us with some sort of rest days or my body is seriously never going to recover from this constant ache and pain.

 

Just like the younger guys, we travelled to Reading to play a team called Spring Field… Although it was evident that we were the better team in terms of our knowledge and IQ in the game, we lost.

 

There were a few miscommunications on the defensive end where players left men completely wide open. The other team also just constantly kept on scoring on us either from fast breaks or free throws which immediately demonstrates that we need to stop ball early on the fast break and jump to help side on the drive.

 

Personally, I played an ALRIGHT game. Not too good but not too bad either. I started off extremely nervous missing a layup off the ball fake and then missing both free throws later in the game. Overall, I finished the game with around 6 points and a few steals. I definitely find my confidence on the court through my defense.

 

By the time we reached home from Reading, it was already 12 which only left me a few hours of sleep before the next day.

 

This camp so far has been extreme exhausting, and I greatly worry for about what is to come.

 

Side note: I really really am craving roti pisang.

Day 7 — 7th July

 

Training today went back to the normal schedule with morning sessions, afternoon sessions, and evening sessions; but unlike any other evening session, we went over something called “situations.”

 

We went through different situations such as being the home or away team, being down my 2 points with only 30 secs left on the clock.

 

This situation training trained our bodies not only to handle the soreness and fatigue related to performance in the late game, but also our minds, focussing on the little things in order to execute plays and bring home the win.

 

We have our first tournament tomorrow and my legs fortunately feel much better compared to the previous days. I think my body is finally adjusting to the intensity of the camp.

 

Tomorrow’s tournament will not have any scouts or college coaches which may disappoint some, but I am thankful for it as I hope to use this as a warmup for the coming tournaments that actually really count.
Photos courtesy of Global Squad 2017 Facebook
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