When Christian Upshaw was picked to play at the Summer Universiade two months ago, he kicked his usual off-season training regimen into overdrive.
The Halifax native and St. Francis Xavier X-Men all-star point guard wanted to ensure he was in top form when he slipped on the Canadian jersey for the opening tip-off at the 25th Games, which is Thursday in Belgrade, Serbia.
“I usually take my time to get ready for the next season, but I realized I had two months to get ready for the biggest basketball event of my life,” he said. “I had to train very, very hard, stop going out as much as I was, and focus.”
Upshaw said he’s wanted to play at this event for years. The Universiade, open to student-athletes between the ages of 17 and 28, takes place every two years and is second to the Olympics in the number of participants and countries.
The lightning-quick speedster earned his way there with a breakout season in his third year at St. F.X. Upshaw averaged 19.1 points per game and finished a deadly .479 from three-point territory en route to Atlantic University Sport MVP.
“It means the world to me,” he said. “It’s like a dream come true. I was saying to my teammates all season, ‘I just want to play on Team Canada,’ and now I get to do it.”
Upshaw hopes to play professionally in Europe after his university days are over, and he knows that getting floor time in Serbia would help him catch the eyes of scouts.
“There’s no better way of getting exposure than playing internationally,” Upshaw said.
Upshaw was in Hamilton, Ont., for a training camp last week. From what he’s seen, he might come back to Nova Scotia in a few of weeks with some shiny hardware.
“We’re going to be a very good team,” he said. “I think we’re going to be able to medal over there.”