Chapter 7:

My First Scrimmage

Would You Paint My Dunk


As we introduced ourselves and told each other our abilities, Sean quickly led the discussion.

“For our offense, Keith, you will be looking for any fastbreak potential. Find an open lane to dunk in.” He said as he looked at me.

“Alright!”

Our big guy looked at the Shooting Guard of the team.

“Alex, I need you to find open spots and pull the trigger quickly. Remember to rotate and keep moving.”

“Got it!”

“Jamal,” he looked at my rival. “Try to find any opening below the rim. I’ll support you.”

“Okay.”

And last, it’s Carlos’ turn as Sean faces him.

“Carlos, I entrust you to make the plays and calls.”

“I won’t let ‘cha down, senior.”

Carlos ended his reply with a smile, which assured Sean a little.

“For our defense, it’s man-to-man marking. Classic but effective, right?” Sean chuckled.

Man-to-man marking, huh? So, I just have to pay attention to my matchup? That’s so simple.

“Okay, that’s all! Let’s go!” Sean clapped his hands, marking the end of the discussion.

The giant of our team started standing as we followed suit. We started walking toward the coach, signifying our readiness for the scrimmage.

“Coach, we are ready.” Sean bowed to the coach.

The coach quickly called the bench team. As they arrived, the coach asked us to begin the scrimmage.

We walked into our positions, where Sean and the reserve team’s Center faced each other for the tip-off. He wore the Astro Jets’ red team uniform, and the other wore white just like the rest of his teammates.

After pressing his clock, the coach blew his whistle and threw the ball up in the air.

Sean won the tip-off, and the ball moved toward Carlos. Carlos picked up the ball and started a fast break.

I dashed forward as I saw an open lane to the ring. Glancing backward, I signaled Carlos to give me a quick pass. Carlos threw a bounce pass in my direction in a flash, and I received it easily.

I drove the ball toward the open net. Holding the ball in my hands, I leaped forward as I walked through the air, slamming the ball down the rim.

*BANG!*

A loud sound reverberated across the hall as the ball went inside the rim. I quickly took hold of the rim, trying to slow myself down before making a landing.

As I landed, I fist-pumped both my hands, celebrating the goal I just made.

“Hell yea!” I thought to myself. “How’s THAT?! That’s my dunk, baby.”

“Well, it seems that university basketball isn’t a big deal…” I smirked as that thought ran through my head.

I quickly realized that I was mistaken.

For the rest of the game, I couldn’t score because the tall players blocked my path to the rim. The sheer difference in our heights made me realize that I couldn’t dunk on them or get a layup past them. Like a panther that had lost its fang, I couldn’t hold a candle against them.

I was outclassed.

Without a viable weapon on my arsenal, I had no choice but to give up on scoring. In every offense phase, I could only pass the ball around or help set up screens for my teammates. I was doing well on defense, but what’s the worth of a basketball player if he cannot score? I felt worthless as I looked at my teammates.

Jamal, the rival that took my position, made some nice post-hook and fade-away moves. He also managed to score a few contact layups and rebounds as well. I started to realize that a forward needed these skills. More scoring options in a player’s arsenal mean you can mix it up, scoring even more.

Meanwhile, Sean played well too. With his gigantic stature, he dunked a lot on the enemy rim, steamrolling through the enemy defense. Watching him is like watching a bear pounding a deer, his matchup can't hold a fight against the goliath of our team.

Not to mention, he never let his matchup win a rebound from him, keeping the ball in our possession most of the time. Our scoring opportunity rose up to the roof with more chances to shoot.

Carlos? Him? He was on fire. Everything seems to be under the palm of his hands. From rotations, ball movements, and even positionings, he controlled everything!

His passes led to a lot of plays, not to mention that he also tricked his enemies by making fake-outs. He also used a few dribbling techniques to make openings for himself, leading to open shots. His crossover managed to make his matchup stumbled once, leading to an easy three-pointer.

However, I somehow felt relieved as I saw Alex struggling like me.

He made some nice deep three-pointers before he got double-teamed by the enemy players, leading to a turnover. This happened repeatedly, rendering him useless for the remainder of the match, just like me.

As the coach blew his whistle, we stopped playing and quickly stood before him.

“Okay, listen up!”

I’m anxious, unsure if I performed enough to make it into the team. Alex looked worried too. He put a desperate look on his face.

“Four of you freshmen passed. Although you all placed in different rotations, you all made it.”

I felt relieved as I was accepted to the team. Meanwhile, Alex looked happy and jumped joyfully.

However, my relief was short-lived as I heard what the coach said next.

“Keith and Alex, you will be put on reserve. You won’t be playing on matches unless you improve and move yourself up in the rotation. However, I will use you two in emergencies.”

Coach’s words struck my mind like thunder splitting the sky apart. My heart was shattered to pieces. My chest was full of emptiness, nothing but void. My hands and legs trembled with shock, devastated by the news he brought, filling my tattered heart with agony.

I have no one to blame but myself.

Well, this is the result of my incompetence. Moreover, my skills are insufficient to do anything in the scrimmage. Looking at Carlos and Jamal, my soul cried even more as envy grew in my heart.

Why can't I be just as good as them? Why can’t I get a spot? Why can't I achieve anything?

As my head was filled with those questions, I turned my head downward. After all, I can’t even do anything against the bench team, so what can I do against the other university teams?

I was too naive.

It feels like all my effort was in vain.

I’m worthless.

My high school basketball doesn’t mean anything.

I’m nobody.

There’s nothing I can do.

I’m useless.

I shouldn’t put my hopes up.

I’m just a dreamer.

I should have gotten a grip on reality.

I’m trash.

Why didn't I know my place?

I’m nothing.

***

Frustration, anguish, and sorrow overwhelmed me as the thoughts stacked on my mind. Unable to do anything, I was paralyzed by my powerlessness.

I clenched my fists, trying to channel everything into them, but there was nothing else that could help me unload all pain in my tattered heart.

I wanted to punch something, but I shouldn’t.

I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t.

I wanted to cry, but I mustn’t.

Before I knew it, I was thrown into a downward spiral, falling down endlessly to no end.

I was sinking into the depths of despair.

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