The sound of the ball hitting the mitts perfectly resounded in the bullpen.
The catcher then threw the ball back to Liza after complimenting her fastball.
"Next, let's practice you change up!"
Liza looked at the catcher's mitt and changed her ball grip behind her glove. She relaxed and exhaled before lifting her leg to take a long stride. She twisted her hips and stretched her left arm while swinging it forward.
At the right time, she released the ball which cruised towards the mitts with a slower speed than her fastball.
As the catcher caught the ball, she immediately threw it back and said, "Good! Your form is good!"
"Thanks!" Liza replied as she held her glove up slightly upwards to catch the ball.
"Alright, take a short break. We are going to continue afterward!"
Liza pitched her last pitch before taking a break.
Her friends went to her and they began to chat with smiles on their face.
"Aby, don't you have a boyfriend already?"
"Nah! We actually broke up last yesterday... But who cares with that bast*rd? I'm going to get an even better boyfriend and make him regret breaking up with me!"
Aby pumped her fist and stared at the sky with burning eyes when she seemingly pledged in front of her friends who started to laugh.
"If you don't care, why even bother making him regret?"
"... I guess I haven't moved on yet."
When a hint of awkwardness started to rise Laura looked at Liza and tried to break it before it even gets worse. She remembered Liza mention her nephew when they visited her home the other day and asked about it.
"Hey, Liza didn't you mention that your nephew moved into Welcity State to study and to pursue playing basketball like his father?"
"Yeah, I also heard about that! How's he doing there?"
"... He told me he is fine. He hasn't left his apartment though because of the storm that affected Welcity state."
"You said he wanted to play basketball there right?"
"Yes. What of it?"
"I don't remember any school that is good at basketball there... except for the known collegiate basketball university at the Central City of Welcity. Why did he choose to go there if he wanted to pursue basketball."
"Actually, I don't really know..." Liza recalled the time when she brought Lance to Citadel state.
"I don't remember when but I think it is last month. Do you know Citadel State Highschool?"
"Isn't that Ann's alma mater? I remember hearing that it was a powerhouse in both Soccer (Football in other places) and Baseball. Do they also have a strong basketball team?"
"Yes, they have. They had been able to secure finals every year but couldn't get championships."
Aby heard Liza and said, "If they are strong, why didn't he choose to go there?"
"Honestly, I don't have an idea. But was also on that day when he decided to go to Welcity."
"Then it will be going to be hard if wants get noticed. As a player, you have to be noticed if you want to go pro. No one will sign up with him if he can't get any appearances."
"Yes, I think so too. I don't mean to offend you and your nephew but is he even good at the sport?"
"... All I can say is that when I played against him for one on one he bore the same eyes as my brother's. He can't be mediocre if he has those kinds of eyes."
"That's quite vague..."
"Wrong move! You don't even know if he is good! You're just basing his talent on his father's talent!"
"I know but I can't help but believe that he is going to be fine."
Liza noticed her friends and she continued, "Don't look at me like that. It's not a biased opinion! If you saw his eyes you would even think the same as me!"
In the First City of Welcity State.
Allan couldn't help but look at Lance's peculiar eyes. It is not about the color or because of any unusual trait but something else. He can't explain but it is as if he is looking at no prey but another predator... a competitor!
At that moment he got distracted and forgot to attack the rim!
Suddenly, as soon as he blinked Lance's hands is already on its way to steal the ball which is being dribbled by Allan. Allan jolted and tried to react fast by reaching down to immediately keep the ball from being stolen.
Thankfully he managed to react fast and dodge Lance's attempt to steal. He glanced at Lance who failed to steal before quickly driving to the paint for an easy dunk.
When he landed and look at Lance he met his gaze and felt chills.
He looked at his slightly trembling hands and shouted in his mind, "What is happening!?"
Once again, with the ball on his hand, Allan dribbled it and observed Lance's defense. There isn't anything special in Lance's defense but Allan decided to stay cautious.
This time he focused and avoided distraction.
When he saw Lance move he immediately crossed over and drove to the rim when he saw Lance not trying to stop him. Although Lance did not contest the dunk, Allan felt like there is someone tailing him from the back.
0 - 4
The game continued to be on Allan's favor as he skillfully moved away effectively from Lance's defensive attempts.
But despite his dominance of the game he couldn't help but feel pressured. It was very strange that he is the one feeling pressured.
He couldn't even realize that he is already panting and slightly exhausted. He wiped away his sweat and recalled the score.
0 - 8
Lance hasn't scored a single point yet.
Allan looked at the unchanging defensive stance and held the ball in his hands.
'What is happening? Why do I feel tired?' He thought while glaring at Lance.
'Those eyes! They are irritating!'
He took a deep breath before he started to dribble once again. He tried to gather up his thoughts and put everything at the back of his mind.
'I just have to score!' Allan looked at Lance and thought, 'He still doesn't have any points but I can't be careless!'
Kevin who is watching in the background also felt that everything looks strange. In the surface, he can see that Allan had been dominating the game since the beginning and that his opponent has yet to score but he couldn't help but feel like it is the other way around.
He also noticed that Allan is already sweating and kind of tired. The last score Allan did came from a layup and not from a dunk.
Somehow, a thought of Allan losing the game entered Kevin's mind.
He tried to shake it off and thought, 'That is impossible.'
He once again looked at Allan's back and frowned, 'You are going to win, right?'
He didn't notice it but he began to unconsciously doubt his nephew's dominance at that moment.
Allan once again scored a layup and increased the lead to 9! All he had to do is to score 2 more points to win the game.
Finally, when he decided to go into attack again Lance suddenly moved which made Allan force a cross over and rush a layup which came short and missed.
Lance secured the ball and finally got the possession!
Allan frowned and quickly changed to defense. He did not say anything and just contemplated n his mistake and carelessness.
He looked at Lance who dribbled the ball at a varying pace.
'He is trying to throw me off!'
Kevin clenched his fist when Allan missed and just focused on the game. He couldn't tell how the game will end now, now that Allan is tired and because of the strange feeling weighing down on him.
Suddenly, Lance charged forward which made Allan retreat but Lance suddenly pulled back and look up!
'No!' Tried to react as the scene of Lance shooting the ball cleanly flashed in his mind. But he tried to step forward to contest Lance if he decided to take a shot.
Unfortunately, Allan's foot slipped as he outbalanced leaving Lance open and free to drive the ball for an easy layup!
The ball fell into the ground as it slowly left the net.
Allan looked at Lance as if the world has slowed down with the ball bouncing in the background. He fell in a daze when Lance scored against him and he couldn't do anything to stop him!
His eyes began to burn as he glared at Lance in fury. He didn't like that fact that Lance scored an easy basket from him.
In his mind, he swore, 'I won't let you score again!'
2 - 9
Lance once again scored when he fell behind in beat as Lance skillfully played withe ball and feinted left and right.
'Have to stop him!'
3 - 9
4 - 9
Allan tried to reach for a block but fell short as he felt the ball slightly brush past his fingertips.
5 - 9
He couldn't believe it.
'What is happening!?'
He once again looked at Lance and saw his eyes. He couldn't help but get goosebumps!
Same with Fin he started to categorize Lance as someone strong!
Once again Lance drove but stopped mid-way for a jump shot which smoothly went into the basket.
6 - 9!
6 points straight! A 5-foot 7 inches tall man managed to score 6 points consecutively against a 7-foot giant like Allan!
Kevin couldn't help but be shocked. Finally, he noticed Lance's behavior. He can see that the kid is very focused on only three points Allan, the ball and the ring! Lance has never taken a simple glance at anything other than those three as if he is playing while in a trance!
He concluded that Lance is in the so-called 'Zone' which is a term used when a player is playing at 100% full concentration. It is said that athlete's who entered the zone could think clearly and move smoothly according to their thoughts and instincts!
"Isn't he taking this game too seriously?" Kevin mumbled to himself as he saw Lance once again go for the attack.
Lance dribbled the ball and looked at Allan's defense somehow he felt like he can move faster and see the court very clearly! His eyes trailed on Allan as he tried to drive and look for places he can effectively score.
Unlike other players who look at the paint and a way to score, at this moment Lance can see every option he has to score. He can also see the effective distance of Allan's defense clearly which helped him avoid the defense and get away from it easily!
Somehow felt different.
'This feeling! It is as if I can do anything!'
Lance thought as he moved in the way he imagined he is going to move. His body is following him smoother and it moves sharper and sharper.
'Is this the place?'
Suddenly, he found himself in a good spot to score and begun to pull up but he suddenly felt a pain on his knees stopping him from scoring.
In the next moment, Allan appeared in the side.
Lance couldn't help but rush a shot. When the ball left his hands, Allan's hands came and collided with his!
Allan's body pushed Lance and made him fall down. As he was too focused on the ball he did not mind.
The ball bounced off the ring and to the backboard before finally going into the hoop after rattling.
7 - 9
Lance's hand reached for the knee as the pain once again appeared.
Allan glared at Lance as he passed the ball.
Lance still has the possession of the ball.
"I will stop you!"
When Lance heard it, he looked back and started to dribble once again.
"Then stop me!"
Suddenly he jolted to the right with his hands before crossing over fast to throw off Allan, and when he finally managed to create the distance he drove to the rim and jumped with a ball on his hands!
Lance soared in the air with his eyes on the rim.
Allan's instinct kicked in as he saw Lance jump for a dunk and quickly responded. He rushed and went for the block. With his long hands, he reached for the ball!
The ball bounced off the rim and fell to the ground.
Allan landed and stayed on his feet while Lance's hand fell later when he let go of the rim.
He missed the dunk.
Allan slowly walked towards the ball and said, "My possession."
Lance quickly moved forward and moved into defense.
Allan suddenly pounded the ball and charged. He dribbled the ball with a fast pace and left a strong sound every time. Every bounce was audible as he heavily dribbled the ball.
He looked at the hoop and saw and feinted to a direction before crossing over to the paint!
Lance tried to keep up to defend the hoop. He still found it hard to follow Allan's long strides but he manages to keep a tight defense by responding as fast as possible but a pain once again jolted on his knee which made him react to Allan's cross over a beat slower!
When Allan entered the paint he took the ball off the dribble with two hands before taking it with one hand along with a jump, his foot slammed on the ground as he went for a dunk from the distance!
Lance reacted also jumped for the block. When his feet pushed off the ground his knee screamed but he endured and pushed himself upwards. He can't afford to lose a point now!
If Allan managed to get momentum now then he would inevitably win!
Allan saw Lance jump for the block so held the ball as high as he can to smash it down the hoop. He decided to smash a dunk to score and force his dominance.
'I WILL SHOW YOU!!!' he shouted in his mind as he continued to soar in the air to the rim!
As if the world moved slowly, Lance reached for the ball on Allan's hand and intended to slap it off Allan's hand. He tried to pull himself and stretch his arm to its utmost limits to stop Allan from scoring.
With great might, Allan started to swing it down which met Lance's hand midway! Allan started to win and push the ball to the rim! Lance loses on power but he kept his hand on the ball, he tried to push in another direction to veer it off the hoop!
Finally, Lance's hand slipped off the ball but Allan also lost his hold of the ball!
The ball left his hands and bounced off the rim!
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