Duje Dukan Travel Blog - No. 3

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UW sophomore Duje Dukan is overseas playing with the Croatian National Team in the U-20 European Championships in Bilbao, Spain. He is checking in periodically with UWBadgers.com with stories from the road.

To read Dukan's earlier entries click her: No. 1 | No. 2

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Hey Badger Fans,

Checking in with you on Day 7 of the European Championships in Bilbao, Spain. The team has gone 2-4 since we have been here, with wins over Latvia and Lithuania and losses to Sweden, France, Austria and Serbia. The loss to Serbia was today's thriller... a one-point (80-79) heartbreaker.

I got hurt during one of our friendly games with the French, straining a muscle near my hip, so every movement of my hips like running or shooting would ignite the strain. As time went on it got better and thanks to our team trainer helping me out and cutting down the swelling, I was able to miss minimal time and keep playing in the games.

{D8425956-F409-4D2F-9218-8E9148AA703B}flexible.jpgThis is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I feel like I need to take advantage of it and not let anything ruin it or prevent me from playing and experiencing the European championships.

Our team was placed in a tough position at the start of the tournament when our main point guard left the team. That's a big loss considering he was on the All-Tournament team for the World Championships two years ago in New Zealand with the likes of Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack.

His leaving put us at a great disadvantage because we didn't really have a floor leader or anyone to organize the team. So with the extra roster spot we called a point guard who participated in the U19 World Championships this year but with our bad luck, he was injured in one of the last games in the tourney the same way I was and he opted out of joining the team.

So, essentially we were left without a true point guard that we were used to and comfortable with. This has brought some distress and questions to the team. In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons attributed to our poor performance the first couple games and why we haven't done as well this year. But we have adjusted as time has gone by and played better.

As far as me personally, I've been playing more and more getting back from the injury and getting back into the flow of things now. In the last game I played about 25 minutes and most of my time that I play is spent on the wing or at the 2. I have also played a little at the 4 spot also.

[Editor's note: Dukan had 6 points and 3 rebounds in a win over Lithuania and finished with 8 points (2-for-5 from 3-point range) and 3 rebounds in the loss to Serbia. Dukan's game-by-game stats]

There haven't really been many stories except that I've really come to see here what a bond basketball can create. I've met kids from France, Sweden, Montenegro and many other places that are in the United States playing basketball and we have shared our experiences and talked about the differences between Euro and U.S. ball. Everyone has agreed that it has taken them longer than expected to get adjusted and acclimated.

I guess one funny story is that I've been sort of a translator for the guys here because I studied Spanish for six years. So whenever they have questions they go get me and I have to ask and deliberate. It's really testing my Spanish ability.

On the one day we had off between games, the team went to the Bay of Biscay, which is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Spanish coastline. From there, it is open water so it's very windy as it is basically open ocean. It was truly a magnificent sight because the waves and water was so wild but it was right on the coast. For the 30 minutes that we were there walking around, it rained twice and the wind never stopped.

We walked around the city of Bilbao as well to get a feel for what Spain is like. Seeing the other teams walking around the city reminds me of Indianapolis during the Big Ten Tournament and how the tournament takes over the whole city.

We have three more games left against Serbia, Lithuania and Austria. Serbia and Lithuania both faced similar problems to us where they were expected to do well in the championships but the team didn't collaborate at the start of the tournament. We are now focused on what we have in front of us these next three games.

I'll write back soon to keep you updated. Hope everyone is handling the 100+ degree weather in Madison.

Duje

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1 Comment

Duje,

Good luck on the rest of your tournament and travels in Europe. Really looking forward to having you back in Wisconsin and getting ready for an awesome Badger season!

Jim

ON WISCONSIN