Former basketball player Gaafar ElSouri was a dual-sports athlete competing in both basketball and football. Dubai-based since 2014, ElSouri started his career in Saudi Arabia with Al-Hilal basketball club and his career included stints in Europe, Southeast Asia and Canada.
Last year however, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) required him to have full knee reconstructive surgery, leaving him on the treatment table. ElSouri has been documenting his recovery back to fitness for the last twelve months. His physically challenging workouts are designed specifically to get him back playing on the court.
In a series of articles, coinciding with the NBA Playoff finals, we’ll be breaking down ElSouri’s workout clips with the individual exercises you can do to get yourself in top condition. The first in the series focuses on core exercises, to help during practice and game situations, increasing stamina and cardio to help keep focused for longer.
HIGH KNEE SINGLE & DOUBLE FOOT AGILITY LADDER RUN
This exercise is used to warm up and drive foot speed, while remaining under control to ensure two feet go into each box.
AGILITY LADDER PUSH
Doing this activates the upper body, while building both core strength and improving coordination.
SIDE-TO-SIDE HEAVY BALL PUSH UP
Here you engage your core and work on stability as the offset hand position forces your shoulders, chest and core to stabilise your body.
STABILITY BALL PUSH UPS
This exercise relies on your core strength, chest and shoulders to stabilise your body and control your movement. It requires balance and concentration as well as strength.
LATERAL PLYOMETRIC FLYING PUSH UPS
A tough one, this is an advanced movement that is designed for explosion utilising the core, upper body and overall body control.
WALL BALL SIT-UPS
Using a medicine ball ensures your core creates the explosive movement generating power to throw ball as powerful as possible.
LATERAL SIDE STEPS AGILITY LADDER WITH HEAVY BALL
It looks easier than it is, this exercise is used to improve foot speed, lateral steps and foot coordination. It requires speed and concentration.
You need good coordination to complete this three-count combo moving forward while increasing foot speed in and out of the boxes.
You can follow ElSouri’s progress on Instagram @g.elsouri1
If the series opener of the NBA Finals showed how much impact the best player in the world can have when he’s at his peak, Game 2 exhibited just how demoralising the best team in the world can feel when they’re clicking.
Golden State didn’t need Cleveland to shoot themselves in the foot or have to pull it out in overtime this night as they took the initiative by playing their brand of basketball and playing it well.
The Warriors were hyper-efficient scoring the ball on one end of the floor, while on the other they forced players not named LeBron James to beat them, which the Cavaliers couldn’t do for the most part.
Of all people, JaVale McGee set the tone after Golden State coach Steve Kerr inserted him into the starting lineup over Kevon Looney.
The change didn’t improve the floor spacing from a conventional sense, but McGee’s ability as a roll man burned Cleveland over and over again as they struggled to stop his dives to the rim after he set a screen for the ball-handler. McGee had the first two buckets of the game off dunks and finished a perfect 6-of-6 for 12 points.
His defence was also significant as his length provided more rim protection and made life a little bit harder for James on drives.
The Warriors’ defence as a whole was much better than in Game 1, when James ran roughshod on them for 51 points and torched in isolations. This time around, Golden State weren’t shy about doubling and bringing their help defenders a step or two closer to the paint to deter James’ drives. For almost every other team, that strategy would potentially backfire, but because the Warriors have so much collective length, they can bother James while also rotating quick enough to run the Cavaliers off the 3-point line or contest their looks from deep.
Offensively, Golden State couldn’t have shot better as they hit 57.3 per cent from the field and 15-of-36 from beyond the arc. Stephen Curry was unconscious towards the end and finished with an NBA Finals record nine 3-pointers, but even outside of him, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston and McGee were a combined 29-of-38.
Such is life against the Warriors that when they’re on, they’re really on, and that can leave opponents feeling defeated. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how well you play on defence because one of Golden State’s deadly shooters can make it a moot point with a difficult make, like Curry did with his ridiculous 28-foot fadeaway over Kevin Love in the fourth quarter.
Cleveland can take some solace in the fact they were within reach for most of the game despite taking the Warriors’ best shot on the chin. But unless James’ supporting cast plays better, it won’t matter.
LeBron gets little help agian
With the way Golden State’s defence was geared to slow down James in Game 2, that put even more pressure on his teammates to step up as many more possessions ended with them shooting.
George Hill came out with an attacking mindset and had 12 points in the first half, but was just 1-of-4 after the intermission as his aggressiveness seemed to fizzle out.
Love, meanwhile, topped 20 points again but was 7-of-18 from the field as he left makeable shots on the court for the second straight game.
After catching so much heat for costing the Cavaliers in the series opener, J.R. Smith carried over his struggles into Game 2 as he had five points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Through two games, Cleveland are 8-of-32 on 3-pointers off James’ passes, including 5-of-16 on uncontested looks, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Role players typically perform better at home in the playoffs, so the Cavaliers will hope their shooting woes turn around when the series shifts to Quicken Loans Arena for Game 3 and 4.
Otherwise, there won’t be any need for Cleveland to return to the Bay Area.
Stephen Curry hit a Finals record nine 3-pointers and had 16 of his 33 points in a scintillating fourth quarter to cap off a strong showing by the Warriors as a whole.
LeBron James, meanwhile, didn’t come close to matching his 51 points from Game 1, but had another near triple-double.
Here are player grades for both teams.
Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry – Was scorching the nets with ease from beyond the arc near the end, when he was in one of his unstoppable zones. A
Klay Thompson – Didn’t look at all bothered by the high ankle sprain he suffered in Game 1 and contributed 20 points. B+
Kevin Durant – Wasn’t the focus of the offence but took his opportunities when they were there to shoot an efficient 10-of-14. A
Draymond Green – His defence on LeBron was exemplary and he did his usual playmaking as the trigger man on the other end. B+
JaVale McGee – Was a difference-maker in his 18 minutes as the roll man, while his length provided rim protection on defence. A-
Shaun Livingston – Still hasn’t missed a shot in the series after hitting all five of his attempts off the bench in Game 2. B+
David West – Did some of the dirty work but also hit a corner 3-pointer for some found money. B
Jordan Bell – Was solid off the bench in his 11 minutes to hold down the fort while the starters got a breather. B-
Nick Young – He let it fly in his 14 minutes but was 0-of-5 from the field, including misses on all four his triples. C-
George Hill – Started the game with an aggressive mindset but his offensive impact faded as the night went on. B+
J.R. Smith – Didn’t make up for his costly blunder at the end of Game 1 as he missed several open shots to finish 2-of-9. D+
LeBron James – Had a tougher time scoring than in the opener but was fantastic at finding his teammates, who could have done more. A-
Kevin Love – Even though he had 22 points, Love shot inefficiently again and was burned several times on the other end. B
Tristan Thompson – Was much better as a finisher than in Game 1 and did his part by chipping in 11 points. B+
Jeff Green – It was another rough game for Green, who seemed allergic to catch-and-shoot chances. C-
Larry Nance Jr – Provided some energy off the bench but also got cooked several times by Curry in switches. C
Kyle Korver – Didn’t make a single shot and was tied with James with a team-worst plus-minus of minus-18. D+
Jordan Clarkson – He’s nearly unplayable right now and Tyronn Lue decided to barely use him after a bad start. D