Gary Forbes FIBA Diary
In his last installment, Denver Nuggets forward Gary Forbes reflects on the tourney.
Denver Nuggets forward Gary Forbes is currently representing his home country of Panama, playing for the national team at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship in Argentina. The tourney is crucial for Panama in realizing their hopes of qualifying for the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Forbes joined the SLAM team as a guest writer and has been blogging live from South America for the past three weeks—providing exclusive photos and coverage of his experiences. —Franklyn Calle
by Gary Forbes
What’s going on everybody, hope everyone had a blessed week.
This is now my third blog for SLAM Online and I hope even though Team Panama hasn’t lived to our potential on the court you have enjoyed the updates from the FIBA Americas tournament. It has been a rough one for us. The tournament here has great teams and tough competition. FIBA rules are extremely different from NBA as I’ve known personally from playing overseas before. Team Panama is now 1-5 in the tournament and we are surprisingly still in contention to finish 5th place and qualify for next years tournament to try and gain a position in the 2012 Olympics.
I have to be honest with you guys. Team Panama is struggling on the court due to behind the scenes issues. Our team is the only team not backed by our government and probably the only team without any sponsors. Our president, who I will not name, has put the team in a lose/lose situation in my eyes. Our practice facilities are subpar, practicing on 9-foot baskets, as your regulation baskets are 10 feet. Panama has a facility, “Roberto Duran” Coliseum, which we can’t use because it is a government owned facility. There are two federations in Panama and basically we are a private club team. Crazy, huh?
Our President booked our tickets home for September 4th because he didn’t believe we’d make it to the second round. Along with that, we have one coach, no staff, no trainers, and once again no backing or support from our country. I was in a meeting before I left Panama with the Pan Deportes President who said that we don’t represent Panama when we play in these international tournaments, FIBA recognizes us but not the government. I had no clue of these conditions before I came to represent my country.
Another factor that amazed me was how we had yellow practice jerseys, mind you the Panamanian flag colors are red, white, and blue. Due to the fact that we are unable to represent our country, we don’t wear the colors inside of the country. I have seen other teams here at the FIBA Americas tournament have scouting reports, film, and a game plan for the opposing teams, which we have none of. Like I said, we only have 1 coach. There have been players in the locker room taping themselves due to the lack of trainers on hand. I’ve always known that what you put out is what you get and I must say I am disappointed in the lack of effort from the team’s President. It has been a humbling experience just finishing my first NBA season and then to come here and deal with this.
It’s sad in a sense because the talent is there but without any resources its tough to go out and produce the way we would like to. With all that being said, we have 2 games left in the tournament and as players I know we live play every possession like it is our last for the pride of our country even though technically we don’t represent it.
All in all, it has been a learning experience for me and a humbling one to say the least. I haven’t been playing my best but there’s no excuses in my eyes. We play Venezuela and Canada in our final two games and I would love to finish our tournament on a win streak. Sorry for the venting but had to let everyone know the conditions that we are dealing with. LOL.
Hope everyone has a blessed week and a blessed rest of your year. Would’ve loved to keep the blog going. Check Fibaamericas.com for updates and scores of our last two games. Hopefully you see Team Panama with 2 wins at the end. Thanks to Slamonline.com and all the readers for your support and interest.