Featuring Forbes: Gary's Blog From Panama
UMass senior basketball star Gary Forbes is in Panama preparing for the FIBA Americas Basketball Championship which takes place in Las Vegas later this month. He will chronicle his experiences right here on UMassAthletics.com in "Featuring Forbes".
August 17-18 - Days 7 & 8 - Adios Panama
Well today is my last day here in Panama, I am definetly going to miss the food. I think I gained five pounds from just eating, that's good because I think I lost about 10 playing in that gym.
I appreciate all those who read this log and those that sent me emails while I was here, your support is much appreciated. We really didn't do anything special on the final day, we had a walk through at the gym and then we were given the rest of the day off to do minor things before we leave.
I was able to do some laundry and get a haircut out here during the day and packed all of my things. We had a meeting at 6 pm to give us our sweat suits and practice gear and itenary. We leave tomorrow at 5 am from the hotel to go the airport for our flight to Miami at 7 am. From Miami we have a direct flight to Las Vegas where we will be staying at the PALMS hotel.
Should be nice.
This isn't my first trip to Vegas so I pretty much know my way around. For the rest of the blog I have decided to talk more about the team and my expectations for our four games in the First round.
We play Uruguay on Wednesday, this should be fun because it will be our first real test together against good competition. I feel we are prepared and are going to be real fast. Thats all our coach has been preaching, he wants us to get up as many shots virtually possible. Our team consists of:
No. 4 - Joel Munoz- really fast point guard who pushes the ball non-stop and can shoot it as well.
No. 5 - Jamahr Warren - another point gaurd who is more of a scoring point, very active and does everything, also can play the off guard position as well.
No. 6 - Danilo Pinnock- wasn't there for the training sessions due to family issues but from what I know, he is very athletic at the off gaurd position, and can score. You all know him from GW.
No. 7 - Maximiliano Gómez - one of our best shooters on the team, thats basically his job and thats all he does is shoot the ball, and makes them.
No. 8 - Jamaal Levy- small in size for a power forward but can score and has wirey strength, playing in the ACC at Wake Forest and now overseas in Argentina gives him alot of experience on how to play aginst bigger guys.
No. 9 - Jorsua Chambers- another off gaurd, very aggresive driver to the basket and very physical.
No. 10 - Amir Alvarado- a small forward who does a little bit of everything.
No. 11 - Gary Forbes- Come On!
No.12 - Reyjavick Degracia- played at an NAIA school in Arkansas and runs the floor like a deer and can rebound well and has a very good touch from the outside, also another undersized big.
No. 13 - Antonio García- One of our biggest guys at 6'8, rebounds the ball well and can pass well for a big.
No. 14 - Jaime Lloreda- Most experienced player, played at LSU and broke Shaq's rebounding record there. Good post player and can handle the ball for a big.
No. 15 - Alexis Smith- Our most athletic big and youngest on the team. 20 years old and currently plays for the College of William & Mary.
That's our team in a nutshell, hopefully we can outrun and out score everyone, I going to go ahead and get tucked, wake up is at 4 am on Sunday.
Thanks for everything again and can't wait to be in Vegas representing UMASS!!!!!!!
August 16 - Day 6
Today was the same schedule as all the other days, except for the fact that I didn´t wake up early to go and lift weights or even breakfast. I felt sick this morning after trying some nectarine juice last night. So I didn´t wake up until about 2 in the afternoon. I ate some food and then went back to bed to sleep again. I finally woke up and felt better around 4 o´clock, got my stuff together and then went to lift and from the weight room straight to practice.
The most difficult thing to do in Panama I think is catch a cab. I spent at least a half hour of my day trying to catch a cab. Either they don´t stop for you and go to female passangers or they tell you they are not going in the direction you tell them.
Practice was intense today, we had a full game scrimmage. The coaches kept score and tracked fouls. They didn´t keep individual score so I couldn´t tell you how much I had. I´m going to be modest and say I had about maybe 18 or 20 points. My team lost by three points. Tomorrow we are going to scrimmage again so we are going to try and get a win tomorrow. Only two more days of practice left before we leave to La Vegas, so I´m just steady counting down the days.
Tomorrow I am going to eat with some more of my family members I didn´t get to see on sunday.
So until then, Hasta Mañana!
Day 5- August 15 - Celebrating Panama Viejo
Well today was Panama Viejo and we had about an hour practice. We practiced at 2 pm today with the worst heat of all. All the other days were bad but it was raining so there was some coolness from the rain. It has been raining everyday here. It is the rainy season so that's somehting to expect. It rains here about seven months out the year.
The strange thing that I found out today is that kids here go to school from April until December and have January through March off. That crazy, nuts their rainy season is our fall and winter so I guess it evens out.
Practice was just basically some walk through stuff of our plays. We had a couple of drills and then went over our plays. I was sweating as soon as I walked in the gym and didn't stop till I took a shower at the hotel.
I saw some funny stuff today as I walked around. We all know that Panama is a third world country but I didn't know some of the things were that bad in certain areas. There kids walking through traffic trying to sell stickers and fruits and that made me think and be glad for all the things that I have in life.
I did see people trying to hustle tourists. For example, I saw one guy as we walked by him dragging himself on the floor like he couldn't walk begging for money and as we passed him and some gave him a dollar and drove off he got up and started speed walking passed us and went to a different location. That definetly tripped me out.
I went to the mall and walked around but couldn't find anything my size due to the fact that most panamanians arent 6-6. Also there were no size 13 sneakers or shoes in any store so it was bad luck for me at the Albrook Mall.
Another intersting thing that you should know about Panama is the way of travel. In the states taxi cabs are expensive and so are buses. Over here buses are 25 cents anywhere and the cabs cost two dollars to go most places unless you are going to the other side of Panama, then its like five dollars, still not bad right?
Well tomorrow should be fun, we have weights, individuals and practice, I look at saying to myself, its only three more days left of practice before I'm on that plane to vegas.
Day 4- August 14 - More Practice
Tuesday was kind of the same schedule as Monday. I woke up to a good breakfast once again like I have been for the past four days. We went to the private gym and lifted, my body feels sore today but I am used to this type of feeling, especially with Coach Ford and our strength instructor Coach Otrando.
Then we had another individual workout, today was a little bit shorter due to the fact coach wanted us to get rest for practice today. Practice was tough because we only had nine guys becuase one of my teammates had to go to the hospital becuase he was so dehydrated that his whole body was cramping up and they had to give him an IV.
We had practice for about two hours but in that heat it felt like we were practicing forever. I know I should be in good shape once the season starts becuase the Mullins has AC and it will be nothing compared to playing or practicing here.
Tomorrow is a Panamanian national holiday called Panama Viejo so practice is going to be light and so I'm going to have to find something interesting to write about for tomorrow's blog.
I am about to go and eat some good Panamanian food and then call a few friends and some family and then get "tucked". Hasta Mañana
Day 3 - August 13 - Getting Tucked
Monday was a tough day. We had to lift weights at a private sports club that is located in the city area of Panama then we had a sort of indivdual workout in a gym that was very humid. I was drenched after getting up about 300 shots.
After that I went back to the hotel had lunch and do what we (UMass basketball players) call get "tucked," meaning going to sleep.
Anyway around 6:30 we had a full team practice. Jamaal Levy from Wake Forest is on the team and I remember him from my time at Virginia, we talked a little while before practice started. As soon as practice began we got into scrimmaging, after 20 minutes of the 3-on-2 fast break drill. We scrimmaged for 45 minutes -- three 15-minute quarters in the most humid gym I've ever been in. We had managers on the side throwing us new basketballs because they would keep getting sweaty after two or three times up the court.
The practice was tough today, I have to get used to the extra physical play becuase the calls that I complained about which I would probably get in college, many of the players told me that I wouldn't get them overseas and especially not in these FIBA Championship games coming up.
I am probably the youngest or one of the youngest on the team, most of the guys are 25 and older. We have the same schedule tomorrow so I'm going to go ahead and get "tucked" because im going to need my rest for another long day tomorrow.
Day 2 - August 12 - A Special Homecoming
Sunday was a great day for me. It was a humbling experience for me.
I traveled back to the place where I was born, Cólon, Panama. Its an hour-and-a-half from where the hotel is, that I am staying at. The drive was OK, nothing except trees and mountains all the way there. When I got there the first thing I saw was kids playing soccer which is the most popular sport down here. Every where I walked today during my visit back home kids were playing soccer on basketball courts and in the streets.
The first stop I made was my old neighborhood and block which is 9th Street. I went to the barber shop that was on the corner and I saw my older brothers' old barber and he remembered me right away and couldn't believe it was me. He told me stories about how I used to run around the streets and they used to call me "locitito" which means like crazy little one.
Then I went down the block and I saw my old house. There was an electrical error in the house which caused it to burn down last year. It was definitely sad to see that.
Then I went to pick up my nephew Derek Jr., funny thing is he looked just like me. I was happy to see him because I´ve never met him before and all he could do is smile due to the fact that he was shocked to see me. Then I went to see my eldest brother and his kids. His name is Roberto Jr. named after my father.
I've spoken to him on the phone before so it was more like a good to see you again visit. After that I went to see my godmother who I often see because she travels to the States every year. It was good to see her. She took me around where she lived and told me about how I used to love to come around there and play soccer.
She told me my nickname around Cólon used to be "cholo" which means cooly haired boy. I got that name from one of my unlces who passed away a long time ago.
My last stop was going to see my niece. I took my nephew with me too. My niece's name is Shadia, she is beautiful. She was kind of shy and shocked to see me too but after a while we were talking and having fun. I really enjoyed my stay in my old neighborhood, although things have changed it was a humbling experience but I loved every minute of it.
I can't wait to see my niece and nephew again in December when they come to the States. I already miss my family, who I just saw. Too bad I won't get to see them until next year when I come back for my niece's Quinceañera, which means is a "Sweet 15".
Day 1 - August 11 - Practice in Panama
We had our first practice today. It was different than what I'm used to. We shot around for a half hour before everyone showed up. Some of the players were injured. The courts are exactly what we played in when we went to the Bahamas last summer, when UMass took its tour in August.
They officially told me today that I have made the team. Practice was laid back. We ran over five plays. I understand most of the stuff their saying its just that I don't speak Spanish that fluently, so its kind of easy to go through practice so far. We seem to be a good team, coach wants us to run and gun, but we are going to need everyone to be healthy.
I played really well in practice today. I guess I am playing the 2-spot due to the fact that "I shot the lights out" as Coach Duncan stated.
The basketballs are different too. They are the official European basketballs. It was very hot in the gym today, we had practice at 2 pm so it was day time outside with the sun beaming inside the gym. No AC just like the Bahamas. I'm kind of "school-sick" already, its kind of weird because I cant say home-sick due to the fact that this is actually my home.
The weather is nice, not too hot because its rainy season. Food is so cheap, I ate breakfast today for $2.50. I had pancakes, an omelet, and bacon with apple juice. Lunch cost me $4.00. I had one of my favorite meals that my mother always makes which is called beef steak picado, its just chopped up steak mixed with peppers and spices along with patacones which is fried plantains. For dinner I just had arroz frito combinaciones which is a fried rice combination mixed with pork, seafood and chicken.
Tomorrow we have the day off so I'm going to see my uncle, godmother, niece, nephew and one of my brothers. I'm going to go back to my old house too so it should be fun, I hope.
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