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April 10, 2005

WAPA Wins It

Q. What should you do when you have 6 finals the following week and there’s a basketball tournament all the way in Champaign during the weekend?

A. If you’re an idiot like kr, you drive down anyway, study all day in the library, play in the tournament at night, and then drive back at 5 am Sunday morning to Chicago.

Q. What was so important about this tournament?

A. Considering we felt that we underachieved in the MEC tournament by losing in the semifinals, we needed to avenge that loss in December by winning this one. And then also, there were personal reasons…

Q. What the heck is WAPA?

A. WAPA stands for “We Already Prayed Asr”. It’s a bunch of guys who’ve been playing basketball together ever since childhood and always run as a team in tournaments. I think I’ve explained how I came up with that name in previous posts. People have suggested that WAPA stands for “Winning and Playing Aggressively”, “Willowbrook And Peripheral Areas” (since we all live in that area), and “We Always Play Awesome”… and then there are some other hater-suggested terms that have been contrived by all the kaariheen (haters) out there that I won’t mention… hehe.

Q. So what happened at the tournament?

A. Well, we got off to a terrible start on Friday night. We were in the same division as two of the top teams in the field of 14 (No Ruckspect and BKA). Friday night was supposed to be the equivalent of the regular season: each team played the teams in its division to determine the record used for seeing for the single-elimination playoffs on Saturday night.

Q. Hey kr, you ghadday, don’t you have finals?

A. Yeah. But I don’t care about med school cause I’m a ghadda (donkey) like that sometimes…. or maybe I’m always a donkey and its just sometimes that I’m not. I dunno which one.

Q. Are those new WAPA jerseys?

A. Why yes, these indeed are new jerseys. Isaac found some ghetto-fabulous Starter jerseys on sale for 7 bucks at Walmart (they have a zipper pocket in the sides for like your cell phone or something) and got them printed up in time for the tournament.

So Friday night, like I said, we played pretty crappy. I dunno what it was: maybe it was the long drive or maybe we just weren’t motivated. After winning our first game by 2 points, we lost the second one by 2 points… but the third game we played that night… we were flat out horrible. We started to not play our game, panic, and force the issue when it wasn’t there. Everytime they’d score a basket, we’d rush down and try to get it back quickly, instead of being patient with the motion offense and looking for our shots. The other team, BKA, played a great game, and we simply couldn’t match their emotion and intensity: we were listlessly walking the ball up the court, weren’t getting back on defense, etc. By the end of the Friday night games, we were a lowly 1-2 and given a #12 seed (out of 14 teams) heading into Saturday night’s playoffs.

After Friday night’s fiasco, I pulled the guys aside and we all had a gut-check talk: were we serious about winning this thing or were we here to just lollygag around in our new jerseys and look like a bunch of damn fools? The guys responded well: we circled the wagons and everyone responded that he was serious about winning the tournament. We resolved to stick to our game: the motion offense, team defense, looking for the open man, and not forcing shots. That’s why I love these guys, they always respond to adversity by taking their games to the next level.

After spending all of Saturday in Grainger (the engineering library… which is basically Banana Republic meets a library… why can’t UIC have decked-out places to study like that?), we went into Saturday night’s games as underdogs… which was exactly where we wanted to be. I told the guys to forget about Friday night: 1-2 didn’t mean a thing because we were 0-0 now.

Alhamdulillah, the guys played like beasts on Saturday: inspired, collected, energetic, and everyone fulfilling his role. Rehan and Asad carried the scoring load; Abed played big in the post; Meraj shut down the opposing teams’ star player(s) (and hit a huge three in the semi-finals); Abe and Isaac played inspired defense and made hustle plays. Team defense overall was solid, especially in our second game when we had to replay BKA on Saturday night and we came out solid, holding them to only a handful of points for the first half of the game.

Defensive MVP award has to go to Asad Vaince in the finals as I had him guarding this brother from St. Louis (I believe his name was Khalid) who played Division-1 basketball (Columbia University) and was lighting everyone up. We used a scheme to have Asad shadow him throughout and had Abed roam in the middle to help with the dribble-penetration. The original plan was to have Asad and Rehan switch off on defense so as to conserve energy… but Asad played amazing defense, holding his man to a few points only.

I don’t think we had a single offensive MVP this time around because Asad, Rehan, Abed, and Meraj played solid throughout, with each one of them stepping up in critical times during the games.

All I gotta say is: Alhamdulillah… what else needs to be said?

Finally, the best moment was during the closing minutes of the final game: Isaac got an offensive rebound and put it back in for his first points of Saturday night… everyone in the gym went nuts. Since the gym closed (they literally shut the lights off 15 seconds after the finals were over) at 2 am, we went back to Isaac’s place for some team photos

Da gas station.

(edit 12:03 am): the other amazing thing about this trip was the drive back in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Since Rehan wanted to stay for the barbecue, I came back in a two-car caravan with the Habeela posse/Khalique brothers. When it came time for us to stop for Fajr, as I was in the lead, I randomly pulled over to an exit (I believe it’s the Peotone exit on I-57). We stopped at the Shell station and prayed one of the best Fajrs in the longest time (at least for myself)… but what was uncanny about this stop was that I realized that the last 3 times I’ve gone down to Champaign, for some strange unconscious reason, I’ve always stopped at this particular exit and this particular gas station. It’s weird, because I’ve never planned on stopping here specifically… but for some reason, this is where I always ending up praying. There must be a metaphysical explanation for this…

From left to right: Isaac Qureshi, Rehan Riaz, Abed Moiduddin, kr, Asad Vaince, Meraj Alvi, and Ibrahim (Abe) Shamsi … Rehan’s jersey is the best, cause everytime he’d score, people would shout out, “are you serious!”

Poppin the collar

Trophy presentation… Note “Fiddy” spelled on the wall with duct-taped Capri Sun boxes

Abe and Fiddy, our #1 cheerleader and waterboy

Abe doesn’t go to Long Beach State guys, he went to Benedictine, in case someone’s confused.

Rehan needs a haircut. Zeeshan seems to be disgusted by the person in the middle…






From → Uncategorized

  1. Anonymous permalink

    did u just interview urself?

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Hey KR were you screaming and yelling in the first round like you always do when you suck it up. lol
    lol figured. KR is the shortest

  3. MashaAllah…great job guys…congrats on winning….thats what sports is about…coming from behind just when u think there is no hope left.

  4. haha @ lt’s comment.Congrats Kr. You should’ve put your xanga url on the jerseys.

  5. Anonymous permalink

    I made wapa….

  6. i like sadiq’s comment..

  7. congrats for winning. The 2 eprops are for performing Fajar whilst travelling.

  8. Anonymous permalink

    KR can u plz shave ur head and keep a go-tee……

  9. fajr on road trips is definitely a surreal experience.

  10. Anonymous permalink

    wapa got lucky.have you been working out kr?

  11. props for driving all the way to chambana for a b-ball tourney. that’s dedication!

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