The Elite European Basketball Showcase (aka the Elite Summer League or EEBS) in Pula, Croatia was one of my favorite pro camps. Pula is a beautiful town, the weather was great, and I had/ made some fans out there, which was the most memorable part of the whole experience.
Another reason was that my team’s roster worked out for me to play point guard/ playmaker for my club, which is exactly what I wanted but don’t always get the chance to play because of my size and physical abilities. At 6’4″ I’m rarely the shortest guy on my club, and being that I can jump well, have long arms and rebound a lot I often can end up as a 2 or even 3 on some teams.
The EEBS drew my attention because it was a week-long camp, as opposed to most camps’ format of 3-4 games crammed into 48 hours. The EEBS was 4 practices, 4 games, even morning shoot-around sessions. Each team had a coach; we installed and ran plays. The spread-out, long format, to me, makes it easier to evaluate players and get a clear feel for what everyone can and can’t do.
I stayed in a double room in the camp hotel with my Serbian roommate — he didn’t snore and kept the bathroom clean, so in my book: great guy (he’s the shorter of the two really tall guys I’m pictured with below). All I did in our room was shower, eat, and read (and spend an entire day sleeping — see the last paragraph); the small TV had no English channels and the hotel lacked wi-fi. I did manage to finish this book (I get a ton of reading done when I’m out of the USA — no ESPN/ American sports channels and no in-house Internet are most responsible for this).
The hotel was a 10-minute walk from the venue where the games and practices were held; the post- walk was my dread as the week went on. The hotel had a breakfast spread every morning. If you’ve been in or are from Europe you know what it’s like: scrambled eggs, bacon strips, dry oatmeal, a big bowl of fruit, some pastries. These spread always feel more like a snack than a meal to me but I make do. We had meal vouchers for lunch at a restaurant that was close to the gym; I learned to tailor my meal selections to fit into the cash allowance of the vouchers after having to pay the overages out-of-pocket a time or two. For dinner you were on your own; I dined at a close-by restaurant a couple times (asking for “potatoes” gets you french fries; “vegetables” yields a salad. Ketchup is not free. Did you know that only we Americans use salad dressing? Only choices were oil and vinegar… yuck). I broke down and had some fried chicken and fries one night, even some McDonald’s the day after the camp (tasted exactly the same).
Pula is a calm, quiet town for the most part, with a lot of tourists and attractions (see the Roman colosseum photos I took below). Pula is a beach/ resort town right on the Mediterranean Sea with great weather — not too warm and always sunny. There was a farmer’s market- type open space every day in the center of town (also free wi-fi in the town center… which did not work); all kinds of fruits, veggies, herbs & spices available. I even managed to find an Internet cafe that allowed me to avoid Web Withdrawal. The people of Pula didn’t seem to surprised to see a couple tall Black guys walking around town (there were many more European players than Americans here).
I felt fantastic when I first got to Pula, and a humid gym and lack of fluids caught up to me by the third day of the camp — I ended up in an emergency room with an IV in my arm (officially diagnosed as exhaustion/ dehydration). Coupled with a strained hamstring, I missed a full day of the camp and was about 60% of myself in the three games in which I did participate. Despite that situation, I wouldn’t change a thing about the experience and I plan to see Pula again.
2012 EEBS Update: A bunch of players have asked me my opinion on the EEBS, as they are considering going themselves. I’ve been speaking to the EEBS organizers about this year’s camp, as one thing from last year still lingers: the video, from 7 days of practicing and games, never surfaced. My issue is that Mitja (the man in charge of EEBS) keeps lying to me about the video (“it will be up soon” – March 2012), when he could just say he doesn’t have it and that would be that. I’m assuming that by now the video doesn’t exist, though I don’t know why. EEBS, by format, location, and overall experience, is the best camp I’ve been to. $650 is a lot for a camp fee, though, including the flight from the USA. The camp itself I liked, but, as you can probably guess, video is important to me. As of April 2012, I am still undecided on returning to Pula. If you have any other questions, ask me.
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