That's my favorite quote thus far. Russian coach David Blatt said it in regards to whether his player Nikita Morgunov would suit up while sick. I'll give you the rest of my favorite gathered quotes from basketball later. First, let me wrap up my final day at Shougang.
The rundown included the women from Australia, Mali and Belarus. Australia is one of the favorites and has some great talent. I was excited to talk to as many of the players as possible, especially because they're the only team we see that is from an English speaking country. Usually the first practice ends between 2:45 and 3 o'clock. But when 2:30 came around I started to hear the players come out of the gym. The venue workers neglected to inform us of the early finish. Crap, we didn't get the chance to talk to the players while they were still hanging out on the court sidelines. Anna and I had to rush out of our seats and grab the first player we could before they all left. I was able to interview Penny Taylor, who was nice, but the rest were gone when I finished with her. Anna spoke with another player too, so we did get enough quotes. I just really wanted to get in depth with the Australians.
Next up was Mali. This was my second go around with them. The only difference this time was Hamchetou Maiga was out of the Olympics with an ankle injury. She was their star. Anna ended up speaking with coach Ruiz about the tough adjustment. She acknowledged she spoke a little Spanish but no French when he told us most of his players spoke French. Of course coach Ruiz speaks great Spanish, so Anna was stuck doing her interview in Spanish. She pulled it off, though it wasn't easy. Meanwhile I found a player who spoke English by the name of Kadiatou Kanoute. She was a little sick too, which makes me wonder how the foreign athletes are dealing with the food changes overall. I know my classmates and I all had our troubles at different points. The final bail of the day went to Belarus, which I called like a Babe Ruth homer. Congrats to them for avoiding us not once, but twice. So that meant we were done with Shougang. Thanks to Zhang Bo and all the other Chinese volunteers and workers. You helped make this a great week. Here's a picture of Zhang Bo, our top reinforcement Susy, and me.
Now for the rest of my favorite quotes...
"The way people play, the way people give themsleves to play basketball is different because it's professional." -Joaquim Gomes, Angola
"The fact that I'm a backup in the States does not mean that I'm not a leader too. Even the 12th man can be a leader." -Manu Ginobili, Argentina
"When you have a gold medal on your chest, you have the world's eyes on you." -Sergio "Oveja" Hernandez, Argentina coach
"She is the only great player on Mali. She is our Nowitzki." -Jose Valentin Ruiz, Mali coach
"We think too much. The players are afraid of mistakes. The coach asked us to enjoy more of the game. Don't be afraid to do mistakes." -Adriana Moises, Brazil
"Of course we worked on things in practice for Croatia. For us, it doesn't mean anything until game time." -Andre Kirilenko, Russia
"I'm not going to change anything. I got to bounce back and have a good game. I'll go 2 for 10 again as long as we get a win." -J.R. Holden, Russia
"This environment is a little different because you have 48 hours to lick your wounds and get ready for the next one." -David Blatt, Russia coach