My Monday Night Basketball League concluded it's season with a consolation game and then my team followed up by playing in the league championship game. Unfortunately, we played a pretty good team and ultimately lost 76-64. My team came out a little flat to start and fell behind right away. We spent the rest of the game trying to catch up.
On a personal basis, I played some limited minutes and didn't score in the championship game. I did the best I could in the few minutes I had on the court. On a team with a lot of perimeter players, my offensive skills didn't fit into the team that well this season. I'm also not a great rebounder or defender but helped out where I could. I think one little thing people don't notice is that I am a help defender. I felt I could have helped out a little more as our team played man to man the entire evening.
Regardless, one thing I noticed about my team was they may have been tense. The starters came out a bit flat and didn't have as much energy as they normally did. That led to a bit of frustration as we fell behind and struggled to come back.
I say that because I have been there before. In years past when I played in championship games, I remember thinking about the game constantly, worrying about how I would do and generally just fretting about how "important" this game was. That led to a lot of struggles and my play in championship games has been spotty.
However, part of the struggles is that I'm not a "star player". My game depends on teamwork and when some players feel the pressure they put it on themselves to win the game. I've noticed that either I don't play much in championship games or I don't get as much opportunity to participate on offense.
The one exception was during the Summer of 2011. We had a solid and balanced team and everyone touched the ball. We won a hard fought 73-72 game in overtime. I scored 24 points but we had three other guys (19 points, 15 points and 10 points) in double figures. I just happened to have a good game in the championship but I was also the one who only scored 2 points in the playoff game the week before.
I remember the Summer 2011 championship game very clearly. I showed up to the gym early to warm up a bit. I remember being focused but very relaxed. A teammate joked that I might get the ball early as I "had been here before". While I just laughed, it turned out to be true. I scored 9 of my teams 18 points in the first quarter.
I understand everyone wants to win and get the title of "champion". I'm fortunate to have six of these "championships". However, my experience from the 2011 championship is that you need to let your game come to you. When you are relaxed, you will definitely play better.
So I'm sure my teammates are disappointed with the loss but they are still young. They will definitely get the opportunity to play in championship games again. I hope they will take the experience and learn from it when the next opportunity comes along.
As for me, I get the rare opportunity for a quick turnaround. I'll be playing on Thursday in another league championship game. My Thursday team is definitely the underdog and we will have to play well to win. Unlike my Monday team, my Thursday team doesn't really have a superstar scorer. We all have to pitch in to do well. Our Thursday team came out hot last week and I am confident we can do the same this week as well!