I'm not sure if it was the extra hours of shooting in the gym, or the weight lifting repetitions when I thought I couldn't possibly do anymore, but did. Maybe it was just utter determination to be a champion. Whatever factor determined the outcome it certainly made the months of sacrifice worthwhile. My teammates and I are Euro Cup champions!
These sacrifices were not only giving it my all on the court, but sacrificing my family, friends, and familiarity, three significant things in most people's lives. Not to mention the holidays, birthdays, good times, and bad that I missed with my loved ones.
Although it was extremely difficult at times to be away, it was an amazing year filled with many exciting new experiences. The honor of earning a championship of this magnitude is something I will always cherish, but I also gathered incredible life experiences this year and it was an amazing journey.
The competition itself was intense with many close games. As predicted, each team came ready to play with the expectation to win. There was a great atmosphere with many spectators, all who were just as intense, if not more, than the players. There were drums, whistles, dancing and singing. It was a thrill to be part of such a great athletic environment.
With this being my first time participating in this competition I wasn't quite sure what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised to see all of the supporters for each team come to life and provide the stadium with more energy.
The final game was against a team from Germany, where the competition took place. They had a massive amount of fan support, but there were also a large group of fans of our team that created chaos in the stands. The team we faced not only had great supporters, but they were a great team. Their tremendous ability to shoot the ball pushed us to our limits and it was close the entire game.
It was an outstanding final and the game was not decided until the last minute or two. I want to take this opportunity to express that it was an honor to play amongst some of the best players in the world. This makes being a champion so much more of an accomplishment, because the level of competition was so high.
Reflecting back on the year I had living in Istanbul I am so glad I made the decision to start my career with this team. Living in a part of the world I had never been to nor had any prior knowledge about was also very exciting. I learned so much in such a short amount of time and value everything that this year has brought me.
I have won a lot of games in my years of playing basketball, and have been a champion many times, but I think everything I had to sacrifice to earn this one makes it so sweet. What a year!