The Nomads

The Nomads

The Tien Shan Nomads are a high school basketball group that represent the Tien shan Iternational School in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This is their history:

A Five Year Review


March 16th, 2006. The TSEC Nomads and the AIS Snow Leopards were playing each other at Miras for the Almaty Private School Association (APSA) Championship. While AIS had won in previous years, this was the first time that the newly named Nomads (they previously had been given the school name Tigers) would be participating in the APSA. Since the Nomads had been pummeled on many an occasion by the Leopards in previous games throughout the years, a not much different outcome was expected to have been the same, and AIS blowout victory, despite the game now at Miras School instead of the AIS School. Expected to have been. A very excited group of junior highers and high schoolers eagerly joined up when they heard and saw a sign up list for the 2002-2003 basketball season. But they weren’t quite sure what they got themselves into. As they headed into practice with some fifteen or sixteen players, some seniors in high school other just entering high school, this would be the first team they’ve played on. But not many of the junior highers played. But there were still many memorable moments in that 4-4 season. From Jason Hambrey wearing boots in the final minutes against CZA, who would go on to win the championship to John Vidmar double dribbling, also against CZA or Joseph Kim banking in a free throw in the same game, qualifying this game as one of the most memorable game for some of the junior high players. During another game, this one at Prestige school, one where Wu Hao started because one of the starters missed practice, the game was reffed by a drunk, who was amazingly allowed to ref after having reffed the previous game for the H.S. girls’ team, who had just played before the boys. Despite the Tigers getting nearly every rebound, we still lost the game Skippy played in only one game and was run over by some big guy after playing only about 4 seconds. He came in on the inbound play and the ball was tipped and bounce towards him. He picked it up, dribbled and was run over by someone. He came straight out and never played another minute. The Fight at Miras is perhaps the strangest thing that has happened in TSEC basketball history. Some shaggy guy, after fouling Josiah Blair, wanted to get a piece of him. After being broken apart, the game continued. After the game, the same guy went up to Josiah and began to jaw. Soon Aaron and Josiah Blair and Nat Boyle were all over his face. eventually the other guy threw a punch or something and the three of them instantly decked him and started kicking him on the ground. Mr. Blair also was some how involved in the altercation. Finally someone broke up the fight, but it still was a pretty serious event. Mrs. Boyle broke her ankle and had to eventually be flown back to Australia. In the first game of the season, Josiah Blair hit a 3-pointer and scored 26 points inn a losing effort to AIS. It was our first ever game and started what became a long losing streak to AIS. That game also featured Mr. Stidham calling time-outs to rest his players because they were getting cramps. We only used the 6 HS players that game. His scoring record still stands, although Wu Hao has scored 24 points four times and 25 four times as well. Nick Stubbs was already the team's most feared weapon. Playing point guard for AIS and being in the middle of the 1-3-1 trap, he ran wild around our team. He was only in 9th grade. Alex kept trying to draw the charge. Almost every game, he would get into foul trouble because he kept getting blocking fouls. He never did draw a charge, but he did manage to bruise himself up pretty badly by the end of the season. Jee Yu, during one of our games, made a left-handed lay-up and Mr. Stidham was jumping up and down with his left hand in the air. The next play, Jee yu tried a 180 left handed lay-up of sorts and air-balled. Mr. Stidham looked at the bench and laughed saying something about Jee yu thinking that he had mastered the left hand by making one shot. Sun Ming (?) scored only twice time the whole season. It was in the last game and he was leaving after the year, so Mr. Stidham told him to go out and shoot. He had missed way many shots till one finally went in. Then on the next possession, he shot and made a 3 and everyone went wild. Our practices at Druzhba were perhaps the most unforgettable part of the season. A squarish court with tiny backboards and horrible flooring was the place where we practiced the majority of the time. A pathetic little thing, it was where we learned our plays like "Michael," "Jordan" and "Mo," "Davis." Our other plays were Arcadia, Utah (inbounds) and our defenses (a.k.a: 30, 31, and 32). We shared jerseys all the time. It was pretty gross, but most of the junior highers didn't ever get into most of the games, so it didn’t matter.

(2003-2004) The following year brought a new coach and new expectations, but it would be a tough season. With Phillip Stubbs as the coach, some might have expected us to do well, since he was the son of AIS head coach Gale Stubbs. But instead of winning, the team did just the opposite, losing their first five games, essentially meaning that in a seven game season, theirs would be over before they even finished all their games. But they finished the season with signs of improvement, winning the final two games. (NEED MORE WORK HERE!!!)

(2004-2005) With yet another coach and now the youngest team in the league, and given the team’s struggles the previous year, little was expected. In fact, Coach David Besing, a basketball head coach from Indiana, said after the first practice that he expected us not to win a single game. And although we wound up winning five, it wasn’t a year to boast about. Scott Winslow, also from Indiana, joined on as an assistant coach after the junior high girls team folded because of lack of players, said he was demoted to our team. But as much as the games were to be forgotten, the practices won’t soon be forgotten.

December 2004, a group of boys were gathered at school 173, not quite sure what toe expect. But after the first practice, they had a good idea of what future practices would hold. During the first practice, no one made a right handed lay-up, which had prompted coach Besing to make the remark that we wouldn’t win a game that year. But he made sure that we would be fit to win games none the less. Conditioning became a real priority in practice as the players ran suicide after suicide while coach Besing relentlessly blew the whistle for the baseline and suicides. Despite this, there were many memorable moments from these rather harsh practices, both funny and straining; for example, Charlie Kim was messing around by doing pull-ups. But coach caught him, and he had to do ten pull-ups. In another practice, we had to do eight sets of 20 push-ups and 13 suicides.

Stats were recorded by the Phelps family and provided more reliable stats than did the scoring table, and over the years much more complex ones. But they served a special purpose to coach as he would look for whoever lead the team in turnovers and would make us run that many suicides (i.e. 8 turnovers=8suicides) at the END of practice, after nearly two hours of running. But there was a consolation prize: after the first four or five a player was allowed to shoot a free-throw to see whether we had to run the next practice. This was done in order to get us to work on becoming better free-throw shooters in practices but more importantly games.

The season opener was like in previous years, against AIS. And Nick Stubbs dominated us again, as AIS would go up 24-3 by the half. We would lose our first three games, Turan, AIS and (?) before winning our first game, Mr. Winslow’s first game with us as an assistant coach.

The CABC was held in Almaty, and we played in it for the first time, despite knowing about it from the previous year and not getting to go. But the opening game for the Tigers was against the British School from India, who would go on to win the game 64-41, but they were much bigger and more talented than we were. But Wu Hao would go on to score 14 points despite going 0-17 in the first half. In another game against Evergreen, we scored 55 points, the highest point total we had scored in a single game ever. In our final CABC game against for fifth place, we played TIS and would eventually lose in a heartbreaker, a 42-41 loss.

After the season officially was over, a game against the dads was staged, but it was a good way to practice the new plays they had learnt throughout the season, but they would lose the game 80-51 to the dads. But with open gyms, the team got to unwind a little, just playing for fun with out worrying about suicides and/or losses until the next season.


With coach Besing gone for the year in the States, Mr. Winslow took over as the intern head coach while Mr. Besing was gone and would lead us to one of if not our most memorable years ever. But the practices never did change. Suicides still reigned supreme, again. With a few new drills inserted, a ten man rotation, and some of the old practices and a heartbreaking loss in the CABC the year before, the team looked to improve, but nobody would have been able to accurately predict the story book ending.

Practices remained pretty much the same as they had before, in the simplest terms, essentially a whole lot of running with practices far and few between. But with the same system, same plays the players didn’t have to worry about learning new stuff. While some new plays, the system remained the same, allowing the players to review over the summer what they had before.

When the junior high league was created, it solved the problem of the high school team having too many people while giving the junior highers a much better chance of playing and getting some game experience. And this left the high school Nomads with a ten mad rotation, essentially two players per position, and it gave them a good, solid rotation.

The season began with four TSEC-AIS games, one of each of the levels (JH Girls, JH Guys, HS Girls and HS Boys). The first three games were TSEC victories, and the fourth game was close at the half, as the HS Boys were down by only three, and we seemed to have had the AIS schemes we played against both in practices and in previous seasons figured out before getting blown out in the second half, and the game was the only loss for TSEC that evening. But the newly self named Nomads would win the next two games, one a forfeit, and then came a two game stretch against Bobek. The first game was a loss, dropping the Nomads to 4-2. But the game could have been won if the reffing was fair. But the Tigers came back with motivation the next time around against Bobek and won with stellar defense, but at the end Wu Hao had a steal that sealed the game, but it was questionable as one of the Bobek players argued that he was fouled on the steal. But the Nomads won. And then they faced AIS for a second time and for a second time lost to AIS.

When Wu Hao injured his ankle during the second game against Miras, it was the first time that the Nomads had an injury to one of their top players, and with Jon Hambrey having just returned from Canada, this meant that the then Tigers would be minus their top two players for a few games. But Nathan Clark stepped up offensively and carried the team in Jon and Wu Hao’s absences.

Despite Jon and Wu Hao returning to the starting lineup, it wasn’t enough to help over come bad officiating, as the team dropped the first to two games against Bobek. But coming back to practice on Saturday and then the next Bobek game, the team knew that we would have to work hard to win the next game. And that is exactly what we would do, playing good defense, especially from Jon Hambrey and a late steal and lay-up by Wu Hao that eventually sealed the game as we would go on to win the game 34-30.

The next opponent was New Gymnasium who forfeited the game, and then came AIS for a second time around, and they won, again. At the end of the regular season, the Nomads, as we called ourselves, stood at around 8-5, the opposite record of our previous season, CABC included.

During the first game of our second CABC, this one also in Almaty, Kazakhstan, our first opponent was the British School from India. It was a struggle all the way, but at the end of the game, despite the scoring table showed a British School win, the game really showed just how much we had improved from when we had played them the previous year. During the CABC against AIS, perhaps the loudest of any High School basketball game in Nomads history, was one our worst. The first quarter was a blowout and it only went down hill from there for us Nomads. The Snow leopards made 4 three pointers and at the end of the first quarter the score was 24-10. Despite up getting to within five at the end of the third, AIS would win the game by twenty points. But at the end of the game John Vidmar made a three pointer, prompting the crowd to go wild despite us having us just gotten whopped by AIS. In the third place game against Evergreen the Nomads went down 8-0 before rallying to win. After going down by eight, Mr. Winslow calls a timeout to yell at the players to motivate them to go on to win. But it was mostly and Dawson and Thomas’s fault as they kept most of the team up as they talked and laughed non-stop, but the Nomads would rally on to win the game, 50-37.

After a third place CABC finish, the post-season for the APSA started with the Nomads matched up with the third place Bobek. In a game that had less than ten fans for the Nomads, while the girl’s game had 50+, the Nomads would game on to win the game, but partially because Bobek didn’t have one of its best players and also they didn’t know that this game was to play in the championship. But in reality, the boys game was at AIS while there was also a junior high girls game before the girls game, both of which were at Miras.

March 16th, 2006. The TSEC Nomads and the AIS Snow Leopards were playing each other at Miras for the Almaty Private School Association (APSA) Championship. While AIS had won in previous years, this was the first time that the newly named Nomads (they previously had been given the school name Tigers) would be participating in the APSA. Since the Nomads had been pummeled on many an occasion by the Leopards in previous games throughout the years, a not much different outcome was expected to have been the same, and AIS blowout victory, despite the game now at Miras School instead of the AIS School. Expected to have been.

AIS had won the previous (2?) APSA championships and had literally whopped up on us Nomads and the lingering effects of Jon Hambrey’s ankle, so the win was expected to go fairly easily to AIS. But the Nomads opened the game with a few Jon Hambrey jumpers. But as the game wore on and the lead no more than three point for either side, the game was shaping up to be anything but and AIS blowout. As the minute wore on and the end of the fourth quarter creeping up, the Nomads began making costly turnovers. But AIS also missed some free-throws with eight seconds, and then Nathan Clark got the rebound, passed to Wu Hao who made and unbelievable shot to send the game into overtime. An Alex Manley shot put the gave AIS a two point lead but would eventually foul out later in overtime. But Jason Hambrey would come up big with a short jumper and then the free-throw that would give the Nomads their first ever APSA Championship.

(2006-2007) As a new school year came around, so did a new basketball season as well as new expectations for the Nomads, who were coming off their first ever APSA Championship. And with Mr. Besing returning, at least the head coaching staff would be complete, but not the team, as four of the Nomads top bench players didn’t play due to either absences (John Vidmar and Thomas Seiberhagen were out of the country) and Josh Taylor and Joseph Kim didn’t play for their own reasons. But that didn’t stop the Nomads in their quest for a second straight APSA title.

Replacing old faces with new, the Nomads for the first time in recent memory started the season against someone other than AIS. This game, against CZA, the second meeting between the teams, the first being in the CABC the year before, was the first that the Nomads played at the CZA gyms but definitely nor the first in which they were on the receiving end of bad officiating, as the CZA coach doubled up also as the referee, he called numerous bad calls (obviously) against the Nomads. In a game that featured CZA going to go 7-24 in both the field goals and three point field goals, the Nomads would go on to win their first ever season opening games.

In their second game against the overmatched Miras school, in which the Nomads would go on to out run Miras in a third quarter run of 22-0 before an eight second three pointer by Miras, it would be the first game of both Andrus Nesbitt and Josiah Parkhurst. Wu Hao scored 24 points, again falling short of the 26 single game point game set by Josiah Blair in the inaugural season for the then Tigers, it would be the first of many games in which Wu Hao would fall two or less points shy of either tying or setting the Nomads single game scoring record.

In the third game of the season, the school of MKNO was a much tougher challenge of the Nomads, as they fell behind early and then had to fight ought of the hole they so seemingly easily they had dug themselves into. By half time they were down by double digits, yet the fans stayed anyway.

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