Katrin Chiemeka: Basket And The City

05.11.2007

Katrin Chiemeka (England) English native Katrin Chiemeka respresented her country at the U16 European Championship last season. This year, she will play domestically in France with Saint Jacques Sports Club Reims. Chiemeka will share her thoughts in her blog on fibaeurope.com

Hi all!

I had a pretty thrilling start to my school break last weekend as I went for the first day of the LFB Open, Basket and the City 3, in Paris as a media member.

Immediately I noticed the hot atmosphere in the hall with loads of fans.

I should maybe add that Mourenx had a great set of traveling supporters.

The first match started with Mourenx against Pays d’Aix 13 and with the noisy support of the crowd the game was quite exciting as the fourth period ended in a tie and it had to go into extra-time and Mourenx won!

Afterwards there was a press conference with the coaches and the players.

Nathalie Lesdema from Aix and Justine Agbatan from Mourenx. It was very interesting to hear the coaches explain their tactics and so on. I got the chance to take a picture with Justine who had had a good game and I remember her saying in the press conference " il faut savoir tourner la page, nouvelle saison est égale à nouveau départ" because she didn’t play well last year in the Open.

The second match of the first day was not so sensational with Montpellier meeting Arras, but I still have to mention Adriana Moises Pinto from Montpellier who had a great game and I enjoyed watching her play!

After the match I was waiting for the players to come out of the changing room and got the chance to meet a few like Géraldine Robert who is now back in Villeneuve d’Ascq, and

Katrin Chiemeka and Gunta Basko
Gunta Basko is out with an injury but still had time to take a picture.
Gunta Basko (left) from Montpellier who didn’t play due to an arm injury sustained during the semi-final of the Eurobasket Women competition in Chieti, Italy (She will still be out for another three to four weeks by the way).

Finally I interviewed Sandra Dijon. It had to be quick as she was in a hurry. So I asked her how the Eurobasket went for her. She said that it went quite well for her, the ambiance in the team and everything was okay but she was disappointed and upset that they lost as it means no participation in the Olympics next year!

Shortly afterwards I watched St. Amand versus Tarbes which I thought to be rather dull.

But then I got the opportunity to take a picture with Liz Moeggenberg who plays in Tarbes.

I also had the good fortune to meet another international player who I have always been a fan of, Kathy Wambe who I have already seen play on a few occasions and I simply like her style as she never gives up! She is also going to play with her club Villeneuve d’Ascq in the Euroleague Women. I bet she’ll do fine and her team will go far.

Last but not least, a few moments later I met Sonja Petrovic from Bourges, one of the best young international players (18 years old) in Europe who also played at the Eurobasket Women 2007 and with the U18 and U19 Serbian team. I didn’t really interview her, though she came across like a very kind and sympathetic person. I simply couldn’t wait to see her play. Still we had time to share a joke about her wearing a Spanish Basketball jacket from her old club Barcelona and me a Spanish Basketball jersey and finally we took a picture together!

To end the first day, the last game was the defending champions of last season’s LFB competition against the champions of NF1 of 2006-2007 as USVO took on my club Reims.

I have to admit it was a remarkable match with suspense till the last second. Emilie Gomis from USVO had a blinder, she was very aggressive and gave Reims a hard time. I think that Reims played really well collectively and it was ‘just’ the free-throws which let them down at the end. But I believe that it was a good start of the season against the defending LFB champions and the proof is that they won their second match on Wednesday against Clermont-Ferrand 78-76. You need to be mentally strong to handle theses close games. Actually I’m proud of Reims, especially of Marie-Laure Fleury-Kindoki who is coaching the poussines with me.

Now back to Basket and the City 3! I reckon that the first day of the Open was a success and it was also interesting as it was the first time I worked as a journalist. I have to admit though that it is very exhausting!

The next day of the Open I had to return to earth as I also had a game at Palaiseau. It went okay for us as we managed to play well together in the second half and got the victory. Our coach was happy about the result and said that if we play all together with this team spirit and with all our heart then we can go far!

Fortunately I could watch the last game of the Open afterwards where Bourges met COB Calais (so I saw Sonja play). The first half was pretty gripping as Calais held on but then in the second half their combativeness dropped and Bourges increased the gap and took the game.

I agree with Pierre Vincent, head coach of Bourges, who said that Basket and the City will give a good impression of women’s basketball in France, especially with the media attention and the live coverage of the games on internet.

For me the last weekend was a great experience as it showed me what happens behind the scenes. I really didn’t think that the planning and organization would be so complicated!

By the way I got interviewed myself by Miguel, who writes for a Spanish website. And to make it even more difficult for me the meeting was held in Spanish. Don’t worry Miguel, when we meet next time my Spanish will have improved!

And here are the scores of all the matches from the Open in Paris:

Aix-en-Provence - Mourenx  72-74
Montpellier - Arras   86-58
Tarbes - Saint-Amand   66-53
Valenciennes - Reims   67-64
Clermont - Villeneuve d'Ascq  72-58
Challes-les-Eaux - Mondeville 74-59
Bourges - Calais   89-63

Bye for now,

Katrin


05.10.2007

Hi all!

Yes, finally the new season has started! It’s already four weeks ago that I joined with my new team for training and, of course, school.

I did change colours! I am now in Reims and I am living in CREPS, where you can meet lots of different athletes from different disciplines such as fencing, football, handball, short track, tennis, athletics, basketball and so on.

My timetable is very well organised with time for daily basketball training, school and study period.

You can’t imagine how quickly my day passes, there are time slots for just about everything, even eating and sleeping! Unfortunately I do not have enough spare time to look at other sports at CREPS.

But the main thing is that - apart from school - I can play basketball.

This season I will be playing with the Saint Jacques Sports Club Reims senior team, which is the reserve for LFB, (all this is part of the centre of formation), and I still continue to play U18 in the French Championships.

The training sessions are going okay for me as well as the pre-season games although we had mixed results, but we are getting better and improving as a team.

By the way, I have also started coaching again.

This year I am training the poussines (U10) with Marie-Laure Fleury-Kindoki, a player from the first team (who participated in the Euroleague with Mondeville during last season).

It is amazing how disciplined these young girls are and how tall most of them are! I wonder what they are eating in Reims! One of my trainers, Stéphanie Vivenot (former French international centre! 1m95!!!!), was explaining to the youngsters, while introducing Marie-Laure and me to the girls, that height is not the only criteria to play basketball. I think it is going to be a good season working with them. I am also looking forward to learning from Stéphanie and Marie-Laure more about the coaching side.

Well, that’s it for today on me, I played my first official game last Sunday against St. Amand with the seniors. Now the season has really begun but not only for me.

As you know, I do not have so much time to report on women’s basketball, but I would like to talk a little about my assistant coach of the England U16 girls, Andrea Congreaves. She has played basketball all over the world in the last 20 years, including spells in the WNBA, in Italy, Spain and in France with Bourges and currently she is the player-coach of Rhoanda Rebels Wales that will be participating in the Fiba Europe Cup this season.

Last weekend Andrea played her last international home match for Great Britain as the team beat The Netherlands in the first leg of the Eurobasket qualifiers. On Wednesday she ended her international career in the best possible way as she finished shooting 100% from the field as Great Britain edged out The Netherlands in the second leg and made their promotion perfect.

Also keep an eye on the Eurobasket Women taking place in Italy, you probably have the pleasure to follow it more closely than I am.

And, who knows, I might be there for the Basket in the City 3 in Paris, 28 and 29 October, where all the LFB teams play the first round of games.

Of course, I will be supporting my new club from Reims as they play there on Saturday evening against USVO!



08.08.2007

Salut!

Now I’m back home and I feel really sad that the championship is already over, I would have loved to continue playing another few matches!

So as you know we won our last game against The Netherlands, everybody was happy to finish on a victory. We got 7th place which is okay, but I think we could have done better.

Anyway, after our last match we went to the beach for a swim as our warm-down. It was fantastic, we did not even mind the big waves. Then we went back to watch the 3rd and 4th place match and the final. We also took loads of England stuff to trade and swapped them with other teams. Luckily I got some Irish, Dutch, Finnish etc. shorts and/or shirts and even an organisers t-shirt from our guide Lorenzo.

The 3rd/4th-place game was Israel against Slovenia and it was pretty exciting. My team was cheering for Israel as they came from our qualifying group. But they lost. Then we watched Germany against Italy, it was a close game and the home country won. Svenja Brunckhorst (number 6) from Germany got injured, and I hope it’s not too serious!

Afterwards there was the closing ceremony and the MVP was announced (Nika Baric) as well as the all-tournament team. Unfortunately we couldn’t exchange our England stuff with either the Italians or the Germans as the bus was waiting for us to take us back to the hotel.

In the evening we already said bye to our Bulgarian friends (who were in the same hotel with us) as they were leaving early next morning. It felt quite weird for us to pack and leave the following afternoon. These 10 days championship went so quickly, and I would not have minded to also play the Slovenian team (against Nika Baric)!

On Monday, 6th of August, we were free to do as we pleased: Most of us went back to the beach for a last swim. And then I got a little surprise. As it was my birthday a cake had been prepared for me with my name, my number and the English flag on it! It looked beautiful and it tasted delicious!

I think this championship in Chieti was memorable. The England team and staff were brilliant and we all had a good time! I do not know though if I preferred last year’s championship in Jyväskylä or this year’s one. They were different: In Chieti it was boiling hot, we were next to the beach, in Finland it was warm and we had lakes … But it was a pity that in Italy the teams were not all in the same hotel like in Finland where it was always nice to meet the other teams and try to make conversation.

For the England team the championship 2007 went so-so. I believe all of us enjoyed it and not many girls became home-sick as most of the parents were present. Compared to last year we had more supporters (parents) and it was a nice atmosphere. Just a shame that we didn’t get to the semi-finals!

For my part I really enjoyed the experience and I played okay! It’s probable the first time that I took as much responsibility as a point guard. And I did a good job in defence. But I didn’t get any assists (in the statistics, I know I dished out a few)?! But never mind I know it’s hard to do the stats! Obviously I still have to work a lot to improve my game (ball handling, jump shots and so on) and I will!

See you and Ciao for now

PS: Congratulation to the French U16 girls who won the division A title!! ( And
to Diandra Tchatchouang who got MVP!)


04.08.2007

Hi! On Saturday we had, again, an early wake-up call for 8 till 9 a.m. training. And also this time I found myself in bed again after, not for long as Paul Miller came again to help us relax.

Stunning what you can do with your unconscious mind.

Then after lunch we left by bus to our game: Well, we had a rubbish first half with lazy defence and Finland already had a 22-point lead. We fought back in the second half, but the gap was simply too big, so we lost: (-).

Lianne Miller seriously injured herself, so she didn’t play much and won’t be playing with us for our last match to get hopefully 7th place. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Kristies’ ankle and Naomie’s knee to be alright so we can join our forces and get our own back against the Netherlands. We are definitely not leaving on a defeat!

By the way, well done to Germany (who won against Slovenia, and we only watched the first half: sniff!) and well done to Italy who beat Israel.

It will be an interesting final on Sunday. I’m quite sad that the tournament is coming to an end though.

Today Sunday: And yes we won, and I’m happy for us. Sorry Holland. I suppose we will meet again. Now it’s time for me to go and get ready for the finals.

More later. Bye for now. Arriverderci!




04.08.2007

Ciao, here I am again!

At last we won again! (lol) No seriously, it was nice to win but we should have won this match with much more than 6 points against Romania (without being disrespectful to our opponents as every team deserves to win).

I was especially happy because I had a good game and I got 11 rebounds: You see, I knew my actual vocation in Basketball was to play center! Just kidding! But I’m a 1.65m guard...I have to grow then! Anyway a victory is a victory and we had to play Finland next for 5th-6th place.

Then we had a day off. We could have gone to the mountains but we decided to stay in Pescara and just relax.

Millie, our captain, and I went for an early morning run on the beach (at 7 a.m.) which was really nice and refreshing, as it was not boiling yet! Then I got back to bed until breakfast because I’m a “marmote” (as they say in French) and like to sleep (just joking).

In the morning we went to town and in the afternoon to the beach. Our families joined us and we played beach volley together and then off to the sea. It was great fun, we had a good laugh and I was very pleased to also see my little brother again and play with him!

Afterwards we had cake and a nice surprise: Ollie Jerram, our ex-team manager, arrived to Italy. So happy to see you, we really, really missed you!!! And… to end a cool day went to a pizza palace and had a photo session.

After a great day like this we were fit to play against Finland!



04.08.2007

Bongiorno again! And sorry to disappoint you: we lost again, this time against Germany.

But I think it had more to do with us loosing against Israel where I hurt my teeth after only 2 minutes of me coming on (fortunately it’s okay now).

After further analysing the Israeli match I think England mainly lost because of the basic stuff, that is missing, like boxing-out, playing hard defence which we didn’t do and our free throws which were bad (sniff).

So the next morning we had a good training session and after Lianne’s dad (who is a performance trainer) came and taught us some relaxation/concentration/positive thinking methods to get a good start into the following game, to sum it up: just play without thinking!

It’s amazing all the things your mind controls! Thanks for all your advice Paul Miller!

Then the match took place in the bigger hall (our first time there and not so hot!) which we started well, but then the Germans got a 10-point-lead on us and we never came back.

I still think we should have won this game, but this time we were a bit lazy in defence.

So today we have to win (in the hot hall!) We will give everything on the court, well I will! And tomorrow we have a rest day. What can I say, everything else is okay, my team mates are great as we all get on pretty well and have great fun in our little free time!

And to the teams that have qualified for the semi-finals (and have beaten us: Germany and Israel): WELL DONE and GOOD LUCK!

I also hope that all the participating countries from first to last place take
this experience positively and are having fun.



01.08.2007

Our second match was against Bulgaria. It went well and we had a comfortable win in the end (69-46). I think we all played okay and we were up for our next game against the Netherlands.

A swim the evening before this match was a good way of taking our minds of the championship. Plus we are a good team, not only on the court but also off it.

Unfortunately the match against the Netherlands did not go as smoothly as we hoped: We even had a 20-point-lead at one stage. But lack of concentration, heat, over-excitement and our poor free throws allowed the Dutch team to come back in the last quarter (50-50).

And in the end we lost by 2 points. How disappointing and at the same time that’s what makes basketball so interesting!

Everybody was upset, as we had played the Dutch girls in the preparation series a few weeks back.

So we only finished second of our group and Israel was our first opponent in the qualifying round. Before the second phase all the teams had a rest day. We explored Pescara and did some shopping, went to the beach, played beach volleyball and just relaxed.

We really needed that to get rid of all the frustration. In the evening we had a team talk to focus on our next match.

Somehow though the following afternoon we could not get going properly and we lost our second match in a row against a very physical Israeli team.

That reminded me of last year’s encounter with Israel where I ended up with a black eye!

Nevertheless, tomorrow we will play better! So we were prepared.


13.07.2007

At last we are in Italy! I really couldn’t wait to go and I still feel very excited about this championship.

First things first, Before we flew from cold England (brrrr) to hot Italy (35 degrees Celsius!!!) we had a 2-day camp which went well and it was really nice to be with the team again.

The only difficulty we had before the flight was to get our bags not to weigh more than 15kg! Well, mission accomplished, for me anyway.

After we arrived in Italy and a brief stop at our hotel in Pescara a nice opening ceremony was waiting for us in a hall in Chieti rounded off with a local flag-throwing troop. Grazie! Then we had Italian Pasta, which we enjoyed, as we were all pretty hungry after a long travelling day.

We are close to the sea, but we are not on holiday here, so the next day (27 July) we had our first training session and our first game against the Irish team. I was really nervous (and I don’t think I was the only one!) but I was impatient to get on the court and play and we won our first game despite the fact that we were boiling in the hall! But I’m happy with our win; it’s a good start into this competition!

Very early on Saturday morning we have a training session to prepare for our game against Bulgaria in the afternoon. I hope we can win!

A presto


Hi!

Sorry that the news is coming out late but I have been quite busy the last few days!

Last weekend as planned the English U16 squads (cadets and cadettes) went to Eindhoven (The Netherlands) for two international games against the Dutch U16 teams. The first day started really early as I left home at 5am. I have to admit I am not used to rising at the crack of dawn anymore; remember I am on holiday!

Anyway, it was worth getting up so early as it was a great weekend: basketball-wise and fun-wise (and I finally met the U16 England boys!)

I think all of us had great fun being together and Rachel must have had a birthday to remember as she scored her first points for England in an international game!

This camp reminded me a bit about last years’ Europeans!! Times were set for everything (training, lunch and so on) and we were picked up and brought back to the hotel and airport (even the parents)!  Oh yeah and that hotel was great, a 4 star … nothing to complain about! lol.

To our pleasant surprise before each game the players were presented and the national anthem was played. All of us sang before the boys match, but girls, some singing lessons are required (just joking).

Now let’s talk about the serious stuff:

After recovering from our journey to Eindhoven we had a 2-hour-training session.

Everything went alright except our free throws although we have been working on it.  Later during the day we watched the boys beat the Dutch and then it was finally our turn to play. Even though we lost we still did a good job playing together and executing our coaches’ instructions!

On Sunday we won our game and I believe we played well, and going home on a victory is always good for the moral-You can see our joy in the picture!- By the way the boys lost their second game.

I feel that this weekend was very beneficial even though there were a few injured and sick players.

As I’m mentioning injuries, my ankle is finally better!! I was really happy to be able to play again after 6 weeks off but I have to admit it took me really long to strap my ankle but it was worth the effort.

I also have to say that we were hitting our free throws in the game, so our practice paid off to the relief of all of us and … Karen did not loose her voice!

I also would like to say “dank u wel” to the organisers and “tot ziens” to the Dutch girls.

And before I forget I would also thank Mark Clark, my coach of last year’s England U16 team and now head coach of the GB women’s team, for the nice preface he wrote in our tournament handbook.

As the year of women’s basketball is coming to an end, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have an all star game between div. A and div. B in the three categories (U16, U18, and U20) during Eurobasket 2007?

Oh, congratulations to Tony Parker who got married last weekend! He could have invited me! After all I had met him personally and he even signed my poster when I was 12, I guess he does not remember … anyway I couldn’t have come as I was in Holland!

14 days to go… and time to learn some basic Italian!!

Ciao!


At last, after three weeks my foot is better and I can walk without limping! And soon maybe go running?! (It's probably the first time that I can't wait to run! Just kidding) But it’s the first time in over two years that I have been unable to do any sports for such a long time!! I have to admit though that a little break is not so bad, just a bit of time to do nothing, think about other things. Still, I can’t wait to play basketball again!

Despite the fact that I was unable to train, I went to the last training camp just to watch. I have to admit that it was to just sit there as I would have preferred to join in than just watch my teammates train!! Actually I did some really tiring training, working for hours on my ball handling while sitting! (lol) But as I wasn’t the only one hurt we went to the gym to do some cycling and some weights while the others were just shooting.

At the end of the training camp our coaches had finally made their decision and announced the team going to Italy for the European Championship. I was very happy as Karen told me that I was going for the championship again (as I did last year) but I feel for my teammates, who are disappointed not to be selected because I really got on well with them! So I hope they will continue working hard and get picked next year! Hope to see you again!

Now for all of the 12 girls picked we have to start preparing ourselves physically and mentally for the championships and obviously we are meeting up all together to train collectively. So in two weeks time we travel to Holland with the U16 boys to play a few games against the Dutch national team.

As I’m not allowed to run yet I decided to do some swimming and other exercises to keep my fitness level up! And as I’m not supposed to jump yet, for shooting practice, I basically sit down and shoot around the court (to avoid jumping because once I play I forget about my ankle!).

Anyway I believe that the European Championships will go well for us.  We have trained well and hard all season and our head coach and staff have done a lot of work in getting us to play as a team as well as working on some of our individual skills. So THANK YOU to them for investing so much.

Personally I have a lot of confidence in my teammates and I am sure that we will do well as we have worked hard and continue to work hard until the beginning of the competition! And our coaches also believe in us! So we will all give our best to represent England (which means for me to represent the country, the whole squad even those who haven’t been picked, the staff and the supporters!).  I Just hope that we won’t suffocate because of the heat in Chieti in Italy! I’m only messing around!

As usual, Karen lost her voice yet again at the training camp but she assured me that it was just because she had a sore throat!

Oh yeah, GOOD LUCK to the U18 England team (as I know them and have already played with them) and also the U18 French team! Their championships begin next week!

See you in two weeks time after a few preparation matches!


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