Chapter 41:


Would You Paint My Dunk

The next morning, I took a quick bath and breakfast before heading out to my university. Grouping up in the Aula one more time, the coach gave us the game plan for the upcoming game.

After we understood everything, we went to the bus and headed for the venue. With how far it is from our place, it took us two hours to arrive at our destination.

Well, we could have used the hotels the championship committee provides for us, but as it only took two hours’ drive, the coach thought that it would be best to stay at our own places and took a bus instead of residing in a hotel.

We thought that it would be more comfortable to sleep in our own beds than to sleep in the hotel, and we didn’t regret our decision. We are full of energy and ready for battle.

As soon as we arrived, we went straight to the locker room. Carlos looked nervous as the game approached. However, Brandon stepped up and delivered a speech for the team.

“Everyone, today we are going to face another Division One team for the first time this year. I know that this is not going to be easy, but don’t get nervous! Just follow the game plan and do what we had practiced. We will win this… Astro Jets’…”

“Blast off!!!”

Everyone showed their enthusiasm by raising their fists upward. With that, Carlos was swept with the mood, completely overriding his own emotion as he filled with energy. Soon enough, it was time for us to make an appearance in court.

As usual, I sat on the bench seat during the match. I looked around, there was a sea of spectators watching and cheering us from above. And no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t find her.

Well, finding her is probably just like finding a needle in a haystack here. I should just focus on watching the game.

Like the coach said, the enemy team was formidable. The match ended up in 75-72 as we won with a small lead. A mere three-pointer separated us from a win and a draw.

Everyone was drenched in sweat as they returned into the locker room, and they swiftly put a towel on themselves. The location could be on their neck, hair, or face, whichever they thought best. Brandon and Sean put their towels on their neck, Carlos used the towel to dry his hair, and Tony wiped his face with it.

With the exception of Brandon and Sean, everyone else looked lifeless with the fatigue they accumulated. Some even got dead tired and could faint at any given moment. Instead of winning cheers and celebrations, the ambience was filled by the groans and grumbles of the active players.

Brandon and Sean are still standing tall, talking to each other about the match that they had won. Carlos sat down. With the towel still on top of his head, he took a few rapid breaths to exude his exhaustion. Tony wet his towel with water and then sat down. He then turned his head upward and put the towel right on his face.

The atmosphere was quite gloomy, and it continued until the coach came into the locker room.

“Good job everyone. It was a close match, but you guys made it. While I appreciate your hard work, rest is equally important. In the next two days, we will go against the Idaho Horses in this stadium. You all should rest and get into top condition for the next match. That’s all! Let’s go home.”

And thus, the bus was filled with exhausted players as we went home. Well, everyone except me. Even Carlos, who was usually talkative on our way back home, had turned quiet. I can’t help but to think how exhausted I would be if I played in that match.

Upon arrival at my own house, I took a shower and had another family dinner before I began our nightly call session.

“Hi Keith! I watched your team's match with my uncle. It was a great game, and we enjoyed it. If only you could play in front of my uncle...”

“Well… It can’t be helped, right? But even though I didn't play, I appreciate that you attended the match.”

“Oh, come on, Keith. You are my boyfriend. I would love to watch all your matches. Speaking of which, your team gonna play again in two days, right? I’ll be there too.”

“Thank you, Jess. You are such a caring sweetheart.”

“Ha-ha... Stop it with the flattery…”

We continued to talk about stuff, from basketball, her arts, and even for our future. As usual, we part ways at ten. After I hung up the call with her, I laid myself to bed to rest.

The next day, I spent my whole day practicing basketball at the park. At noon, I ate my lunch at a nearby restaurant, replenishing my fuel tank before going back to practice.

Getting late, the amber sky turned into lapis lazuli as I walked my way home. After I took a bath and had a warm dinner with my parents, I chatted with her for a while, telling her that tomorrow is the date of another match, before I threw myself into bed and closed my eyes.

The following morning, I went to the university after taking a bath and breakfast. When everyone had arrived, the coach reviewed our performance from our last match and gave us feedback as we sat and listened.

The coach continued as he began to explain the game plan to us. After he was done explaining it to us, we walked to the parking lot and hopped inside the bus. The match will take place at the same time as the last round, and we departed almost at the same time.

As soon as we arrived at the venue, we went into the locker room. Again, we prepared ourselves for the match.

Soon, the match started. Thanks to the coach's spot-on predictions, my seniors gained the upper hands on the match. Brandon, Tony and Sean rapidly gained momentum and scored more than their matchups, each of them having their own ways to score points.

Brandon was able to shake his defender off for open shots, Tony nailed deep threes, and Sean dunked against the enemy defender. No matter if they tried to double team him, the goliath of the team just keeps slamming it down hard the rim. He was unstoppable.

Fourteen minutes later, Carlos got substituted in along with other bench players from both teams. The score was 31 to 23 as Carlos made an appearance.

However, our momentum was disrupted as the opponent switched into full-defensive plays. Still, Carlos and Jamal managed to slightly enlarge the gap to 42-30 as the halftime buzzer rang.

At the locker room, the coach gave some additional instruction to the bench players and gave them pointers until the break ends. With the match just having resumed, they continued to play their best.

Seven minutes into the second half, an unexpected accident took place. After Sean landed from a dunk, his right foot was crushed by the opponent center. By his look, it seems that he intentionally stepped his foot on our teammate, and thought that it would escape the eyes of the referees as their view was obstructed with a few players crowding him.

But it couldn’t fool the referees. One referee blew his whistle and called a Fragrant 2 foul. The player in question is booted out of the match, and we are awarded two technical free-throws and one throw-in. Our coach swiftly called a substitution and switched in the bench Center early while the officials called up for stretchers.

This accident reminded me of my father’s tragedy, where he was injured in a match. I couldn’t help but to be in complete loss as Sean cried in pain.

Subbed out, Sean hobbled into the bench. The spectators let out a loud jeer against the Horses player’s unsportsmanlike conduct.

Soon, the stretcher came and it loaded the giant on top of it. The officials tied him with the safety straps and raised the height.

With the wheels becoming visible to us, they pushed the cart out of the arena as the game continued as our team took the free technical free-throws. The game resumed with the ball on our possession, and the score was 62 to 47.

After about a quarter of an hour had passed, the final buzzer rang, marking our win for the second round with a score of 75-58.

But instead of celebrating, everyone in the team questioned the officials of Sean’s whereabouts. One of the officials told us that he is now admitted to the ‘NoCell Clinic’, and we bowed to him as a thanks before we left.

We quickly took our stuff in the locker room and headed toward the clinic. On the bus, I took my phone and contacted her via text.

“Hey Jess, we’re going to ‘NoCell Clinic’, to visit Sean, the player that got injured in the last match. Do you want to come?”

A notification sound just popped on my phone.

“Sure! I’ll go there with my uncle. What room is he in?”

Oops, we didn’t ask for the room number. I guess we had to ask when we arrived there.

“I don’t know, but we will ask the receptionist.”

“Okay, see you there.”


As the call ended, the thought of Sean’s injury suddenly occupied my mind.

I hope his injury is not too severe. I don’t want his career to end here like my father did.

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