Monday, July 6, 2009

Baby Baller Abroad Feat: John Venturi

11 year old John Venturi of Point Pleasant, NJ has traveled to Vienna, Austria to represent the USA in the 12U Junior Olympics from July 4th to July 14th. He has decided to take Basketball Spotlight along for the ride. John will be sending us updates on his international experience on and off the court. Here’s his first entry.

Hey USA - this is John checking in from Vienna, Austria where I'm getting ready to compete in the 12U Junior Olympics basketball tournament. We will be playing against 31 other countries and I hope we can bring back the gold medal. It's been a crazy first 3 days.

This past Saturday (the 4th of July) my dad drove me to Newark Airport where I met 24 other athletes. There were boys and girls who will be playing basketball, soccer and bowling in Austria. There are other sports being played in other countries around the world. It was really cool seeing my friend Jimmy, from Shoreshots 12U AAU team at the airport. We spent most of the 8 hour flight talking, watching satellite TV and sleeping.

On Sunday we started practicing. The first practice included all players from all age groups and was run by Rollie Massimino. My dad told me Coach Massimino's Villanova team pulled off one of then biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history by beating Georgetown in 1985. I thought the first practice would be easy but it was hard, with a lot of skills work and defensive drills.

After practice we all went back to the player's village which is set up with a big cafeteria, a wild game room and a pool.

Yesterday we joined our assigned teams and began practicing with our team coaches. At 11, I am the youngest basketball player here. Our coach worked us hard. We practiced a spread offense with lots of weak side cutting and screening. He said that 12U teams must play man-to-man defense so we worked on that also. In the afternoon we went to a local amusement park. I have no trouble sleeping after these days are over.

Well, that's it for now. I'll get back to you in a few days. All the best to my TEAM BATTLE family.