Former Shippensburg University forward Dustin Sleva recently embarked on his third season with Paris Basketball, but after one regular season contest, his season has already been brought to a screeching halt.
Paris, which is part of France’s second division, Ligue Nationale de Basket Pro B, announced the abrupt suspension to the season on Nov. 3 in a press release on the league’s website. However, with Pro B regular season games on hold, teams can still take part in Leaders Cup games, which is a separate group of matchups prior to the normal season. Regular season games are set to resume sometime in December.
According to the press release, the decision to postpone the championship season stems from the economic needs of each team. With limited capacity at home events and franchises having television deals, some teams have struggled financially and were forced to take out loans to ensure staff and players would be paid. The transition to Leaders Cup games are meant to allow teams to continue to play, and at the same time, not place a significant financial burden on each squad.
In addition to Leaders Cup, teams are still permitted to practice on a normal schedule. But without the regular season, Sleva’s days have vastly changed.
Sleva said his basketball routine has been going to practice, coming home and then going back to practice. With this schedule, Sleva said he still had six hours of the day in which he needed to find something to do.
Sleva graduated from SU with a marketing degree. With the extra time on his hands, Sleva began working with a marketing group in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Additionally, he continues to work on his French by taking lessons throughout the week.
“I wanted to make sure I was keeping myself busy,” Sleva said. “I consider COVID as an opportunity to do something else and gain some experience in the field. I’ve figured out a good routine and I’m just sticking with it.”
Despite the new opportunities to grow outside the game of basketball, the sudden halt of the championship season did come as a bit of a surprise and disappointment. Paris had growing momentum.
In their first matchup, Paris stomped their opponent, Lille, by a score of 80-57. Sleva totaled 12 points, shot 4-10 from the field and hauled in five rebounds.
But with Leaders Cup now at the forefront of the pandemic-ridden season, Sleva said he is soaking in every practice and “cup” game. And last season, Sleva was coming-off a brutal ankle injury, so he knows the importance of each and every opportunity to step on the court.
“At this point, I can only control the controllable,” Sleva said. “I take each practice as a game and I just love playing basketball. So, when we compete in practice, I see that as my game for the week.”
He continued, “It’s hard to judge how long you think COVID is going to last. You’re going to hurt yourself just thinking like that. It’s easier to take it day-by-day and make it as fun and enjoyable as possible for yourself and your teammates. That’s what it’s all about.”
As of now, Paris does not have any scheduled Leaders Cup games for the remainder of November, according to the team’s website. Their next scheduled regular season game is marked for Dec. 12.