BARCELONA, SPAIN -- Our final day in Spain was again filled with enriching culture and terrific competition. After our day trip once more exploring the streets of Barcelona, we played Club Basquet Cornella, by far the best competition we faced all week, and lost on a buzzer-beater, 69-68.
Before the game however, we spent one last day wandering Barcelona. Our first stop was at St. Josep La Boqueria, an outdoor market place stocked with intricate candies, fresh fruits and meats, and other delicious tidbits. Vibrant and colorful, the market is quite inexpensive and offers such an amazing variety of foods that there is quite literally something for everyone. We could have easily spent an entire day trying what each stall had to offer.
After the market, the team ventured towards the beaches of Barcelona and stopped for lunch at Caravela Cafe, a Mexican-influenced restaurant situated across the street from the port. It's pretty hard to mess up a burrito, and these burritos were no exception. The team highly recommends Caravela Cafe to anyone looking for a quick meal in Barcelona.
Our excursion before the game was a bit shorter than usual. The long days of hiking, touring, and playing basketball have really worn on our legs over the past week. We stayed for a few hours in Barcelona before heading to the gymnasium of our opponent for a 6:30 local time tipoff.
The first quarter was a testament to our leg fatigue. We came out flat, not hitting shots and sluggish defensively. But by the middle of the first quarter, we started to rely on defensive effort and energy while our shots weren't falling, closing the quarter trailing ten points. With that momentum carrying into the 2nd quarter, the Ephs flipped a switch and played about as well as we have the entire trip. We outplayed our opponent in the second quarter, playing fundamental defense and making plays offensively. By halftime, we turned an early 15 point deficit into only a 41-40 margin.
As the third quarter rolled around, the Ephs lost a bit of that energy as our legs started to quit on us. With sloppy play, we had a few casual turnovers that led to open transition baskets for our opponents. However, we competed and saw only a six-point deficit as the fourth quarter approached.
Throughout the fourth, we flip-flopped on the scoreboard. We showed the competitive spirit that can lead this team. As the game began to come to an end, we managed a four-point lead after a huge three from Daniel Aronowitz. However, after seeing our lead cut to one with 10 seconds left, our opponent came down the floor and made a fantastic, contested two-pointer to win the game at the buzzer. The final score was 69-68.
Despite playing very well for much of the game and fighting through the adversity of fatigue, we lost a heartbreaker today. However, the Ephs showed tremendous fight and persistence, playing a balanced game that. Daniel Aronowitz once again led the team in scoring with 20 points while Michael Kempton and Marcos Soto grabbed 8 rebounds a piece.
Coach App reminded the team, "The final 10 seconds didn't go our way, but this group showed me and each other that they can handle adversity and compete. We had multiple opportunities to give in to fatigue or say 'this is only an exhibition', but we fought through it and had a chance to win. It was very rewarding to see different individuals step up each game. The guys may not even realize it yet, but they will remember this trip together for the rest of their lives. We succeeded, grew, and enjoyed all three areas we wanted to focus on this week - culture, chemistry and competition."
Ultimately, we had a phenomenal trip to Spain. Although we didn't go 3-0 as we hoped, we played three fantastic games, and learned a lot about each other and what this group is capable of, that bode extremely well for the season. I am utterly confident in this team and in our coaching staff. I truly expect great things this season and have never been more excited for a season to begin.
As always, the team would like to thank all of our supporters here with us and back home. You give us the support to keep fighting, and we appreciate everything our supporters and families do for us. This trip has been an unbelievable experience for us all. It will be something we all remember for the rest of our lives, and I couldn't be happier that I got to spend it with my teammates and coaches. But for now, we travel back to the states. Wish us well!
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