Creighton center Gregory Echenique has left for Venezuela to try and help his National Team to the Olympics. He will be offering a running diary for readers of WBR to follow during his time in Venezuela. Gregory will provide updates as the tournament goes on and the Venezuelan Nationals attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.
Thursday June 28, 2012:
We just finished the Super 4 Tournament and we lost to the Dominican Republic by three points in overtime. I ended up with a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds), so stats wise it was my best game of the week, but we came up short. The Dominican Republic had Al Horford from the Atlanta Hawks as their center so it was a good experience going against an NBA All-Star player. You don’t get chances like this all the time, so you have to make the best of it. So now here’s what’s left on our schedule :
First we take a bus ride to Caracas right now (a five hour trip). We will get there somewhere around 3:00 a.m. Then we practice on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. We Play South Korea on Saturday night. Sunday will be a light practice and the road to London starts on Monday against Nigeria.
Editor’s note: On Tuesday night, Echenique had some nice dunks in the win over Jordan. Here are the video highlights and photos of the dunks.
Monday, June 25, 2012:
We just finished a two hour practice. We are currently in Puerto la Cruz which is a nice city about five hours away from Caracas. We got here last night from Argentina. The guys are tired because we had a whole weekend of traveling. Now we have another practice tomorrow at 11 am and we will be playing at 7 pm vs the country of Jordan. The gym where we are playing is really hot and the total opposite of what the one in Argentina was, so now we have to adjust to heat again.
Some guys will not be playing tomorrow due to fatigue. I will still be playing and I was told I will be in the starting five as well. I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t played here in Venezuela in a while and have never played against Jordan before so it will be a good experience.
Editor’s note: If the game is live streamed on Tuesday night, it will be accessible here. The game is also available on DirecTV in Venezuela on channel 104.
Saturday, June 23, 2012:
We ended up taking second place in this tournament- Argentina won the final and it was not our greatest game as a team. We couldn’t get it done on the defensive or offensive end. The good thing is that we still have some more games before we play the actual Olympic qualifier. So the schedule now goes like this :
Today (Saturday) we drive 5 to 6 hours drive from Argentina to Paraguay. We will stay there and leave (Sunday) at 1am from there to Panama for about a six hour flight. Then from Panama we fly to Caracas. That is about a two to three hour flight.
Then once in Caracas there is another plane waiting for us to go to “Puerto la Cruz” which is another city in Venezuela which is where we will be playing three more games in a super 4 tournament (4 counting us). We will play the Dominican Republic, Angola, and the country of Jordan. The first game is Tuesday the 26th.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012:
I’m in Resistencia, Argentina, where we’re playing in the South American Tournament. Venezuela has not won it for a long time, and we are using the tournament as preparation for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament that starts July 2.
The tournament is going well for me so far. I didn’t get in much during the first game, but I think it was due to the fact that I just recently joined the team and only had one practice. I didn’t complain and I played hard. Today we played Colombia, and I started the game.
I’m getting more familiar with the plays; they already have a whole playbook learned so I have to adjust quickly. Physically, I feel pretty good. All the work I put in this summer I can see paying off already. I’m injury-free so far. I got a cut on my nose today while trying to play defense on Columbia’s power forward, but it is nothing that will keep me out of the upcoming games.
Even though I do feel in good shape, resting is key. We play every day in this tournament, and tomorrow night we play Brazil in the semifinals. They have a lot of size so I’ll have work to do. Winning that game would put us in the finals versus the winner of Argentina and Uruguay.
Saturday, June 16, 2012:
“I’m going to try and do my best to keep everyone updated about my trip and experiences with the national team. I arrived yesterday in Paraguay with some members of the federation and we will travel tomorrow to a place called Resistencia in Argentina. The reason we came to Paraguay is because they are a frontier with Argentina and its closer to get to that city because there are not any close airports. I’ll be meeting up with the team there and practicing as well- first game is on Monday vs Chile.”