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Duje Dukan Travel Blog - No. 2

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UW sophomore Duje Dukan is overseas preparing with the Croatian National Team for the U-20 European Championships in Bilbao, Spain, later this summer. He'll be checking in periodically with UWBadgers.com with stories from the road.

To read Dukan's first entry, click here

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Entry #2
July 9, 2011

Hey Badger fans, hope you're all enjoying your summer. Things are flying by overseas.

Just got to France today before our game with the French.

In the meantime we were in Italy for a tournament with Serbia, Finland and Italy which was a good tournament for us to get in game reps. It also gave us a chance to get used to playing with each other before the European championships so we can really hit our peak then.

Our first game was against Finland, who definitely surprised us as they shot the ball really well, which allowed them to beat us. It was a tough game but a good first game because it was a wake-up call, as our next opponent was our huge rival, Serbia. It's always a game of pride when you play them.

From the get-go we were really active and jumped on them early and they never recovered. Beating Serbia was very big because they are a very good team who many people believe will get a medal in Spain in the European Championships.

Our final game was versus Italy and it was interesting to see how hometown refs really value/side with the hometown team. But despite that, we were still in the game even though our coach got tossed and everything. In the end, we lost by 6 and overall the tournament went well because we were able to get acclimated to each other and beat a very good team.

I learned a lot in those 3 exhibition games about European basketball. One of the things was that languages come in very handy because your opponent has no idea what you're saying so you can call out plays and tell everyone exactly what to do and they won't know a thing. The border with referees is also a big one because they are generally from all over Europe and not all of them speak English well enough so it's hard to communicate with them.

The most common excuse or saying I've heard from them is, "I'm sorry I don't speak English." Another thing was how much skill is valued over strength because there are many kids who are weak here, but they are effective because they are smart and have good skills.

So, now we're in France for two "friendly" matches with the French prior to heading to Bilbao, Spain, for the European Championships. These two games against the French will be weird because they are also one of our opponents in group play of the Championships. So both teams will be hiding some of their sets, as well as giving everyone fair minutes so we don't get too familiar with each other.

Hope everything is well back home and everyone is doing great. Sorry for the long delay between journal entries, but internet access has been rare.

Until next time,

Duje

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