Saturday, July 30, 2011

ARBA-86 Perez Zeledon-74

Although it was an 8-hour drive round-trip to PZ and back, it was worth it for 1) the win and 2) one of the most scenic basketball road-trips I've been on. The jungle, the Pacific coast, crocodiles, the Costa Rican sunset while driving up a mountain...definitely beats the rides down I-90 in New England in December. (I mean Worcester's a great town, but having to stare at a linear algebra problem-set on the back of a Peter Pan bus while stuck in the snow for 2 hours isn't really the definition of a big-time college basketball player. Well, having to ask if the locker room showers in PZ have hot water isn't really the definition of a big-time professional basketball player either. "Hot water? You think this is UCLA? Be thankful there is electricity here" - Daniel Simmons).  

The game was another battle, as they all will be. Perez Zeledon has two very good American players, Derrick Lamar and Tyrone McNeal, who I'm pretty sure combined for 60 of their team's 74 points. I came out strong again with a solid first half, but cooled off (again) in the second (I ended with 13 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals, most of it coming in the first). 

With a Barva loss to Liceo, Escazu is now in first place at 4-0. We play them Wednesday at home. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

ARBA Sanatura Footage

Footage/Pics from last game (thanks to Ryan Treviranus). A 4-hour road trip to Perez Zeledon tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

ARBA-70 Sanatura-76

Another nail-biter but another loss, as we fell to Sanatura 76-70. We out-rebounded them and took care of the ball (only 10 team turnovers), but we dug ourselves into a mess on defense, falling by 12 in the first half.

I started off the game well again, scoring 10 points in the first couple of minutes. I was active (final line was 14 pts, 11 rebs, 5 asts), but couldn't buy a bucket (buckets are extremely expensive these days) in the second half (I had about 6 threes that were in and out).

The 4th quarter was heated and close. We traded baskets until about 2 minutes left when an interesting series of events occurred. With us down 67-68, Sanatura was inbounding the ball, and I was hugging my guy close. He gave me a shove and I fell to the ground (needless to say it was a pretty good acting job; I knew my theater minor would come in handy some day). I was pumped as I headed to the line, ready to sink two free throws, put us up 1, and get the ball back. Next thing I know, however, our entire bench is almost on the court, players are shoving, Spanish words are being shot back and forth like a vicious Costa Rican cockfight, and one of our players ejected. Ay caramba. Our team gets a technical, no free-throws awarded to us, and Sanatura gets the ball.

A minute passes by, and we find ourselves down 3 with about 45 seconds left. They are playing a zone still (which for a shooter is a slap in the face, but when you're 2-10 from three the only thing you can do is slap yourself in the face), and I swung through the baseline for an open three from the corner. Again, I thought the little sucker was in, but it hit the back rim and headed my way again. I grabbed the rebound, took a step back out past the arc, and fired up another shot. This time, however, there was a finger from the opposing player almost popping my eye out as I was about to release the ball. I haven't experienced that much sharp pain in awhile, and had visions (pun intended) of my eyeball on the floor (sorry for the overly dramatic minor). Of course the first question I asked when I gathered myself was "is my eye still in?". No foul was called, and I had to watch (with one eye) the last 30 seconds as we fell to 1-2 on the new season.

In other news, the chances of me finding a Costa Rican wife recently dipped as with my puffy eye I now look like Sloth from The Goonies:

Monday, July 25, 2011


Today is a big day, as I've been reinstated as President of Breakfast Management. This entails trekking to a soda up the hill, choosing 5 items for our breakfast plate, and purchasing said plates. I was brutally stripped of the title last week when I forgot hash browns. It was a very dark week. But today I've been called upon to return to glory.

Unfortunately today is a holiday in Costa Rica, and I discovered after my trek that all the sodas are closed. I was expecting trumpets, bells, and a "welcome back!" poster from the lady at the soda, so it made for an anti-climatic walk of shame back down the hill.

In other news we play Sanatura-Desamparados in our first home game of the new season tomorrow at 8pm. Sanatura boasts the leading scorer in the league and an extremely skilled point guard, as we fell to them last time in a nail-biter 75-71.

Con Amor,
Willard Johnson
President of Breakfast Management
Director of Laundry Operations
Professional Basketball Player

Saturday, July 23, 2011

ARBA-67 Barva-83

Last night we fell to 1-1 with a 83-67 loss to Barva at their place (actually, it was their "other" place...I've been hoping to play at their home arena, Palacio de Deportes, a 5,000-seat arena, but twice now the arena has been unavailable the two times we've played Barva, so we play at a much smaller gym down the road in Heredia). This was a much better game than our 40-point blowout the last time we met, as it remained competitive through most of the game, with us getting to within 4 points at the end of the third quarter.

Other than a couple not-too-bonita turnovers and an airball that looked more like a pass to someone in the stands, this was one of my better games. I started off the contest with 7 straight points, got my hands on a lot of balls, was active on D, and felt more in-the-flow of the game than I have in awhile. I haven't seen the stats, but overall I know we got out-rebounded 30-15. 15 rebounds in a game, especially when we start a 6'8", 6'4", 6'6", 6'10" lineup, isn't very good. In fact horrific.

In other extremely exciting news I made both the pictures from the game on Barva's website: Not surprising both pictures are of Barva scoring on the gringo. "Take that America!"

Friday, July 22, 2011

Laundry Wars: Rising

As the low-man on the totem pole here at the casa/office, I have several important duties, one of which is Director of Laundry Operations. We currently do not have washer/dryer apparatuses, so it's been my job to find the most cost-effective laundromats in the area. Little did I know that these sweet-looking, little old ladies who run these laundromats are actually well-versed in economics, market forces, and capitalism, and seem to rob me of $28 every time our 4 loads need to be washed.

Since I've been taking the taxi to the laundromat every time (with daily workouts in the early afternoons and practices in the evenings, I would collapse if I had to carry our 50-lbs. bag over a mile to the laundromat), I found it in my best Ballin' on a Budget (BOB) interests to take up our security guard's proposition of using a laundry service that picks up your clothes at your doorstep. 

I proceeded with Roberto's services, and a day later, our laundry showed up in pristine condition...clothes washed and folded, and even separated by clothing type. All was well in the Laundry Operations Department. Until Roberto handed over the bill. Which was $90. 

$90 for 4 loads of laundry??????????

My BOB radar essentially crashed and my future as Director of Laundry Operations flashed before my eyes. 

A meeting has been set up to renegotiate. Roberto will bring his people, I'll bring our people. Who knows what could happen. The Laundromat business is a mean one down here, and I've already been fooled by what seems to be the mafia disguised as sweet, little old ladies behind the counter. 

I will make them an offer they can't refuse....

Prayers in San Ramon

Some of you may remember me mentioning the Barrantes family, an incredible family who lives in San Ramon, acts as Beyond's program family, and one that opens their house up for me to stay in many times. There son, Emma, is a 17-year-old high school senior who plays basketball on the Junior National Team for San Ramon.

Emma and several of his friends were out serenading houses and families two nights ago in San Ramon, a tradition for the high school seniors in the close-knit town. As Emma crossed the street, four of his friends who were on the other side of the road were struck and killed by a car.

This horrible tragedy has been extremely tough for the families involved, Emma and the Barrantes family, the town of San Ramon, and Costa Rica as a whole (the President announced that Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will be national days of mourning). Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Liceo Tonight

We start off the second season (or whatever it's called, I'm still not sure) tonight at Liceo at 8pm. Liceo finished 7th last season, but have apparently reloaded their personnel and came out with a convincing 40-point win over Perez Zeledon last week.

We've been working on our offensive sets a bunch during these last few weeks of practices, so hopefully the fluidity and chemistry on O continues to grow.

In other news, I've officially made's ARBA roster:

With no other websites really covering our games, there is now official proof that I am on the team, and that I haven't been lying to you all for the past 2 months. Have I also mentioned I am now getting paid $1,000,000 and there are talks of me as a Costa Rican presidential candidate? And that Costa Rican supermodel Kathryn Arbenz is now my wife? That should be on soon.

Liceo en el cerebro... (and Kathryn now...)

Monday, July 18, 2011


So when I'm not playing the childhood game of basketball to pay the bills and keep me alive, I spend the rest of the day working a much more serious job. Extremely strenuous. Incredibly grueling. Something that requires you to be a mature, responsible adult. And that is playing with kids:

(Thanks to Ryan Treviranus for the pics!)

Beyond Study Abroad's partner organization, FundaVida, is a nonprofit whose mission is to bring youth out of poverty. We travel several times a week to put on sports camps in communities on the outskirts of San Jose.

The best part of the day is when we get off the public bus to have a dozen kids come screaming to welcome us...



Antony again...he is a crowd favorite...

Sometimes the line is blurred between who the kids are and who the responsible adults are....

Daniel showing off his arm...

Daniel's big bro...the kid didn't know how to play kickball for the life of him, but was wildly entertaining none the less. Running from 1st to 3rd going over the pitcher's mound and skipping 2nd base was a common tactic. Staying on the base for the entire inning even though he was out was another. And of course kicking for the other team.

Partners in crime...

"Smiley" in awe...

Carlos. I swear I didn't teach him that gang sign...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2nd Half Schedule

It's been a great week of sports camps for the niños (pictures to follow) along with some of the best practices we've had for ARBA. We were slated to play Goicochea tomorrow night, but it has been rescheduled to a later date. For those interested, here is our schedule for the rest of the season:

19 - @ Liceo
23 - @ Barva
26 - Sanatura
29 - @ Perez Zeledon

2 - Escazu
5 - @ Cartago
8 - Goico
26 - @ Goico
30 - Liceo

2 - Barva
6 - @ Sanatura
9 - Perez Zeledon
13 - @ Escazu
16 - Cartago
20/23 - Semifinals
27/30 - 2nd Round Finals

4/7 - National Finals

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

USJ ARBA and #18 Willard Johnson

Still on the team. Still getting paid. Ready to kick some butt.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I'm Alive and Still in Costa Rica!! And Still Playing Basketball! I Think...

Well, it's been an interesting week since our final game last Friday.

Good news:

* I got to spend time in San Ramon for a couple of days helping out at a basketball clinic for 4th-6th graders. One of the ladies I worked with, Tati, is an all-star...she is a mom with three children, a judge, a law professor, vice-president of ARBA (San Ramon's basketball organization), and used to play on the Costa Rican national team.

* No personnel changes were made by the team management, which is great. We are all committed to working together to accomplish our goals. Also I still get to write "Professional Basketball Player" as my occupation (well....more on this next).

Bad news:

* Long story short there are some financial issues that need to be solved with our sponsors. I'll have more information later once I know what's going on, but I may have to write my occupation as "Professional Basketball Player" instead. I should have framed my one and only paycheck.

* I was at the bar last night and of course the championship game between Escazu and Barva was on every TV. I sat there and wondered if TV would add 10 pounds to my gangly frame, and whether or not my future Costa Rican wife would have been watching the game and seen me. I also wondered why my beer tasted so bitter.

* Pinky is back. Pinky is a pink lizard that has been mysteriously showing up in my room and scaring the crap out of me. One second its there with its beady little eyes staring right at me, the next it disappears into thin air. Anyone with reptile-handling experience please inquire within.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Escazu 68 - ARBA 55

It was a hard-fought battle, but alas we fell short Friday night in the elimination game vs. Escazu. We out-rebounded them by 15, and played fairly good defense, but just couldn't get our offense flowing.

My fate is now in the hands of the basketball gods (and the owner of the team). We'll see what happens. In the mean time I'm searching for the unemployment applications and welfare checks. Prostitution is legal here, maybe I'll focus my efforts on a career as a male gigolo...

All kidding aside, this is more fuel to the fire to step up my own personal efforts and the teams effort in this next season. More time in the weight room, more attention to detail during practices, better execution and chemistry during the games. We have the ability to be extremely successful in this league, now we have to put in the extra work to get there. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

"Tonight, we dine in hell!"

Do or die. Backs to the wall. This is it. The big kahoona.

Whatever you want to call it, today's elimination game vs. Escazu is...big. I guess these playoffs aren't just "mid-season" playoffs...but the playoffs for an entire season in itself. The games starting in a couple weeks aren't the second half of a season, but a completely brand new one.

Bottom line is we win, or this could very easily be my last game playing. The owner of the team is, let's just say, disappointed, in our results thus far and was expecting nothing less than 2nd place this season. A loss tonight could mean some changes, and a certain gringo could very well be part of that change (by the way, I'm the gringo). You don't produce, you don't win, you're gone. The business of pro basketball.

I guess I wouldn't be in too bad of company. I mean Lebron James and Kobe Bryant and Co. just lost their jobs, too (with the looming NBA lockout). Maybe I should call them up and start a support group.

Well, wish me/us luck. This could be the last entry of the blog (unless of course you'd like me to keep blogging from the basement of my parent's house where I'll be living pending a deportation).

"What we do in life echoes in eternity"

(not sure how relevant that quote is, but I wanted to end the blog with something intriguing and motivational)