The ball was thrown to the air.
Kingsley roared as he passed the ball to Lance. It was also his means of telling Lance that someone might steal the ball.
Lance quickly turned around to catch the ball.
As soon as he caught it in his hands, Allan immediately came and guarded him tightly. Allan did not give him the time to relax.
Lance could not dribble out of the guard and saw someone coming to help Allan.
Lance immediately had to make quick decisions. He scanned everyone in the court to see who to pass the ball.
At that moment, he saw Gray who is freely standing outside the arc and decided to pass it to Gray.
He pounded the ball once and created a small space between him and Allan.
Then he dribbled a one-two before faking a drive. Allan's hand stretch towards the ball and moved for the steal.
Lance saw this in the corner of his eyes and made an error in the dribble.
The Ball changed direction and was about to be taken by Allan's teammate but Lance quickly lunged towards it and throw it forcefully to Gray.
Allan reacted quickly and tried to snatch the ball mid-air. His arms extended like a long snake but he could not steal the ball but change its direction instead.
Everyone quickly reacted and went for the ball but Nathan got it first as the ball conveniently went his way.
"I got it!"
Dodging his guard's attempt to steal the ball, Nathan dribbled his way inside the court but Allan's team switched guards fast.
In a blink of an eye, Allan is already in front of him.
Nathan flinched and Johan managed to steal the ball from behind.
Kingsley roared as he ran after Johan's descent to Kingsley's team's hoop.
Everyone arrived in Kingsley's team's court and did their best.
Lance tried to force a turnover but it was saved by Tony in an absurd way. He dove to the ball with his body gliding ever so slightly to ground. His hands laid flat and stopped the ball from making contact with the ground.
Lance was amazed.
Kingsley who saw it doubted what he saw.
"That wasn't out!?"
Freete quickly came and took the ball and dribbled it outside the arc.
He looked left and right finding tony beside him.
"You played Volleyball?"
"As a libero..."
Tony innocently replied.
Freete nodded and looked at the court. He saw Allan being pinned by Stuart beneath the hoop.
Lance switched to guard him and it was tight.
Then, Johan came for a screen.
Freete's eyes brightened, he quickly drove inside the paint and saw that it was tight. There are a lot of players inside the paint.
He looked around fast and saw an empty spot where he attempted a jump shot.
Lance who was in charge of guarding Freete was a beat late and Freete dropped a bucket with ease.
Gray threw the ball in but Johan unexpectedly stayed and camped the throw-in. He stole the ball and went for the hoop. He jumped but Stuart who was near him did not let him lay it in easily.
Stuart extended his hands upward to contest Johan's attack.
Johan clutched and tossed the ball into the hoop.
Everyone's chin was up, looking at the ball that made contact high up the board.
Then it fell on the rim and bounced up.
Kingsley, Stuart, Lance, Gray, and Nathan sighed in relief. They really thought it would go in.
Cause if it did it would be a game. Allan and his team would win for the third time.
Johan quickly moved for the rebound as soon as he regained his footing.
Stuart noticed him and raced towards the ball.
But they did not notice Allan who finally arrived.
The giant caught the ball mid-air and slammed it into the hoop!
"It is Game!!!"
"Allan's a beast!"
"We lost again!"
"That was exhausting..."
With his hands on his knees, he kept his feet flat on the ground as he rests. Lance watched everyone as they exchanged words while breathing heavier than the others. He was too tired to talk and move anymore but a smile evident in his face.
He enjoyed it.
Freete appeared beside Lance and asked.
He couldn't help but talk to the freshman while seeing him very exhausted.
Lance was his junior after all.
The first year, Lance appreciated the gesture and nodded at Freete.
Although Lance did not speak and reply, Freete understands that Lance was too tired to do so.
He looked at Lance's figure and shook his head. He smiled and said, "You may be small and not that high but you do play extremely well. Somehow, I can see Fin in you."
"How tall are you?" Freete asked.
"5 foot 7 inches."
Freete suddenly chuckled as if he already expected the answer. "You are practically the same, then."
He patted Lance's back and left.
Lance looked at Freete's back and to the ball that rests beside his feet.
Lance shook his head and straightened his back. He stood up and thought of Fin's future greatness that he once witnessed.
"I don't know about that though..."
Fin was phenomenal. He was even comparable to Lance's late Father who is crowned the "Greatest of all time".
Vividly remembering Fin's plays in his mind, he could not help but feel awed by how good Fin will become in the future.
This is the reason why Lance doubts that he could even get to such levels.
Although he inherited a lot of his father's traits, it doesn't make him as good of a player as his father, Michael.
He wasn't confident in his talent at all nor his skills.
This is why he doesn't want to be complacent about his performance today just because he is ahead of the others because he knows that his performance today is attributed mainly to his experience and knowledge about the game.
All he did was take advantage of the experience he brought from the future to the past.
He looked at his hands and contemplated on himself.
"What matters is I can play and I will try to improve on it."
He saw everyone gathering up to Kingsley and followed.
When everyone is there Kingsley cleared his throat and began to speak.
"I hope everyone enjoyed the 4 consecutive games... Although my team lost three times..."
"He is bearing grudges..."
"Yeah... - Ahem..."
Then Freete and Ronnie noticed Kingsley frown at them so they stopped talking.
"*sigh* Nevermind... Listen to me, I hope everyone will not only enjoy the game but also reflect on them."
Everyone nodded and agreed.
"After seeing how good of a line up this team is, I hope we will perform our best at the competition and earn a good standing."
"That goes without saying!"
"Count me in!"
The sophomores enthusiastically responded while the first years just nodded.
Allan looked at everyone before he turned around and left.
Lance's eyes followed Allan who took a ball lying on the ground to practice.
Kingsley also noticed this so he turned to everyone and said, "Let's continue then!"
Sunshine looked up to her father, Leonard and asked, "Why did the director tell you to have the team enter the tournament?"
Leonard ate the tip of the wafer cone of his ice cream and finished it all.
"... I think he wants to know if there were any improvements in the club... You can also say that he is testing me."
"Isn't that impossible?"
"You have only started coaching the team."
Leonard looked at his daughter knowing what she is thinking.
"If we think of it, yes... a few weeks might seem to be lacking if you want to see improvements but I believe it is actually enough."
"Is it really enough?"
"The team has good teamwork and communication but those aspects have limits."
"... they need tactics?"
"How'd you know?"
"It's you who told me a lot of times! Saying, 'No matter how skilled the individuals of a team is, they will always fall short in front of solid strategic game plans and tactics.'"
"Right! ... Good communication between the team is good at basketball... but coupled with tactics, it gets better.
"ok, I get it."
Leonard firmly believes in his mindset. He had seen great talents play in the professional leagues who get suppressed by a strategic game plan fine-tuned to suppress them.
It goes the same for the First City High's team, they have good players and communication. They work as a team and play as a team but they lack the grand theories about plays.
He knows because he studied them and understood them.
A good game plan can ensure an easy bucket when executed perfectly.
A good game plan can change the tides of the whole game completely.
It was evident in the activity he conducted more than a week ago. It was when he proved himself as a competent coach that can strengthen the team.
At the game between the varsity and non-varsity players, the disparities between the two teams in terms of skills and experience the varsity team was ahead of the non-varsity team by a mile. They are stronger and better but they still lost because they did not expect themselves to be played around by the non-varsity team's strategy.
In sports, a scoring opportunity is nothing but a chance that a player grabs upon and takes advantage of but with a good strategy, the sport turns like a cog of gear according to the strategy's motion. A strategy can force open a chance to score.
This is what he believes.
Leonard looked at his daughter as they walk home together.
"What? Are you doubting me?"
Leonard almost fell down at his daughter's reply.
"You don't believe me?"
Then Leonard saw the unfinished ice cream cone and said, "Are you going to finish that."
Sunshine squinted and said, "Just buy another one! You have money!"
"*sigh*, I didn't know it is this hard to become a single dad."
His daughter ignored him and finished her cone. She looked at the road and noticed someone familiar pass by.
She looked at the woman who past by them and couldn't help but wonder where she saw her.
Sunshine thought that the lady in the white dress looked extremely familiar.
Sunshine shook her head and smiled at her father.
'Where did I see her again?' she wondered.
Lance looked at his watch and saw that it is late.
They got carried away with playing basketball. If Kevin did not tell them to stop they wouldn't have stopped nor gone home.
"Ugh... So tired..."
Lance smiled as he looked at his hands. He may feel like his limbs are heavy but his body never felt more alive.
"It really is great to play basketball..."
Lance walked home and immediately went to his apartment.
He took the key in his pocket and opened the door to his apartment as usual.
He dropped his bag on the entrance and did not notice that the lights were open when he came in when they shouldn't. He was too tired to think of it and went straight to his room to take a shower.
"Wow... You do look brighter than the last time I saw you."
Lance was surprised that someone spoke when he was supposed to be the only one in the apartment.
He felt familiar with the voice and turned around.
A woman in a white dress sitting on the couch.
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