08 December 2011
Hey World -- I’m back again for Round 2…
First, I thought I’d catch you guys up on what’s happened hoops-wise since my last installment.
We’ve had a little bit of a tough stretch, losing our last two games. The first was against Burgos where we were up by 10 points heading in to the half at their place (which is considered one of the toughest environments in the whole league) but ended up losing by twelve points after we struggled to get stops in the 4th quarter. The second loss was at home against Menorca, a team that played in the ACB League last year and is in contention to be promoted back up this year. It was one of those ugly, grind-it-out type games that we end up losing by three points despite turning them over 25 times. Defensively, it was one of our best games all year, but we just weren’t able to make the big buckets we needed down the stretch.
It sucked. Big time. The beauty of basketball though is that there’s always another game just around the corner and an opportunity to get back on the winning track.
For us, that game is Friday versus Canarias. Canarias is in first place in the league, has two former league MVPs, and is looking to make the jump to the ACB next year. Most importantly: Canarias is our interisland rival. The team plays on the island of Tenerife, which is about a 30-minute flight from La Palma and boasts one of the most raucous crowds in the league. For all my Portland Pilot readers back in the States it’s like going to play Gonzaga in the Kennel.
In preseason this year, we played there and got trounced by 30-plus points so needless to say we’re looking for some payback. It’s a tall task and not many people expect us to win but we’ve been getting after it in practice all week and are chomping at the bit for a shot at the league leaders. I’m getting hyped just writing about it! Let’s goooo!
But before I get too pumped and start doing pushups or something lets change topics a little bit.
I thought this week I’d let you guys in on what I found to be some of the finer points of transitioning into Spanish culture after living in the States my whole life. Before coming over here people had tried to help me prepare for the lifestyle but I found that it can only be fully understood by living it yourself. I thought it’d be best articulated in list form, so here you go:
1. People take their time
Spanish life moves at a very leisurely pace. You hear in the States all the time about how much slower the pace of life on the West Coast is compared to the East Coast and all that. Well Spain blows the West Coast out of the water. Nobody in Spain is in a hurry -- ever. I don’t mean this as a bad thing at all, I just found it to be a big adjustment for me, even for a pretty laid back guy like myself. As with all things in life, the Spanish “rate of play”, so to speak, has its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, it’s great when you sit down for an incredible meal at your favorite local restaurant (for me that’s Piccolo or Las Nieves) and want to relax and enjoy your fare. You don’t have to worry about being rushed out the door so that they can seat the next group of people. It’s not so great however when you need a quick bite before heading to the airport to catch a flight or before heading to the gym for practice, and it takes them 20 minutes to make a bocadillo (sandwich).
2. You eat dinner at bedtime
In the States, the acceptable time for people to eat dinner is probably anywhere from 6 to 8 o’clock, or if you’re really adventurous, 9 o’clock (gasp!). Spaniards don’t even start thinking about dinner let alone eating it until 9 o’clock. This proved to be an issue my first week or two as I found myself absolutely starving by the time dinner finally rolled around but I’ve since resolved with my usual late afternoon snack (PB&J baby!).
3. The Siesta
This, hands down, is my favorite part of Spanish culture. It’s simple: every day, usually after a filling and delicious lunch, everybody sets aside some time to take a nap. That’s it. I know it doesn’t sound like much but trust me it’s incredible. Coming from the college life of early mornings, late nights, practices, endless classes and loads of homework and where a solid nap (sleeping in class not included) is about as normal as a lunar eclipse, to here where a post-consumption nap is not only encouraged but expected. It felt like Christmas morning!
I think that’s enough out of me for now but stay tuned for the next installment so I can keep you guys in the loop on the life of Spanish hoops!
Luke Sikma is in his first season playing professional basketball overseas with La Palma in Spain's 2nd League. A 2011 graduate of the University of Portland, Sikma averaged 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game in his senior season for the Pilots. He was named All-West Coast Conference 1st Team and finished as Portland’s all-time leader in rebounds (987). Sikma's column chronicling his rookie season in Spain, "Life in La Palma", will be updated throughout the season. You can also follow Sikma on Twitter @LCSikma43
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