Matteke Hutzler – Third Blog from Portugal!

So the season has officially started! Statistically we are 0-2, but realistically I know we are better than our record shows. Our practices each week have been progressively improving and it is showing in games through a better understanding of set plays, individual roles and competitive desire. The only missing piece is consistently performing for 40 minutes.

In our first game, we travelled 45 minutes south of Porto to Aveiro to play against AD Vagos, who are one of the top 4 teams in the league. In the loss (62-38), I played 40 minutes and had 10 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. Playing the entire game without a substitution is new for me and requires me to really focus on using the natural breaks in the game (time-outs, free throws, stoppages in play) to rest and reenergize. I sometimes struggle to consistently sprint down the floor in transition (but that’s nothing new, is it Langford…?). I need to discipline myself to keep working hard, not only on the court but also in my eating and sleeping habits. I have the potential to score a lot of points in transition, since I am often quicker in a foot-race than my defenders. Being in shape and running hard for 40 minutes is a definite advantage.

In our second game, we travelled three hours south to Barreiro to play against GDESSA. In this game, we were better matched with our competition and able to compete for a win. Unfortunately, we lost by 2… BUT, this was definitely the best team game we have played yet. The final score was 55-53 with my roomie on the free throw line shooting 2 with seconds left. She drew the shooting foul BEHIND the arc for sure, but the refs only awarded her 2 free throws – home court advantage I guess. I played 40 minutes and had 14 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. Most of points came from screen-and-roles or dribble penetration dishes from our guards. My team struggles to see me in the post because they are not used to playing with a big inside; so I think once they get used to seeing me posting up, I will get the ball more often and be able to create offensively on my own.

Our next game is this Saturday against CAB Madeira, another one of the top teams in our league. Madeira is one of the two Portuguese islands, which means we will have to fly there. Our flight leaves Saturday morning at 8am and we play later that afternoon, so it will be a challenge to deal with the adversity of game day travel. We will spend the night on the island after our game and hopefully I will be able to explore a bit of the island before we head back to the mainland on Sunday.

Other than that, things are pretty much the same here for the most part; except the weather… sunny days of 22 degrees, but dropping to 12 degrees almost every night. We haven’t had any rain since I’ve been here so there have been lots of forest fires in the outskirts of the city. They are fairly controlled but can create a smoky haze in some places. Luckily however, there hasn’t been significant damage or loss due to the fires.

One few exciting surprises I received last week – my mom has booked a trip to come visit me in November! AND, I am going to be an auntie for the 4th time! OHHH Life is sooooo good. I couldn’t be happier : )