Friday, 3 December 2010

Last day of work, last weekend in D-Town, 4 days left!

Hey Hey Hey...

Today is the 3rd of December out here and it's also my final day of working at the Casuarina All Sports Club! I'm excited but also sad at the same time (if that makes sense..??) haha. I've been blessed with my bartending job there and being able to meet all my co-workers as well as the "regulars" who I've come to know pretty well through many a poured beers. At the same time I'm happy to get back to my schedule of being in the gym 24/7 and on the bball grind without having to worry about working at all! Overall it's been a great place to work and I'm thankful for them taking me on as an employee the past few months.

That leads me into my U.G.L.Y. fundraising efforts that ended a few days ago. We had a huge raffle night last Friday and raised around $1,400!!! It was a fun night and we raffled off meat trays, ham, electronics, a keg and much more... I wasn't behind the bar at all that night, I was working the floor selling raffle tickets and making jokes! It was a ton of fun and everyone was very generous for some prizes but ultimately the foudation. After that night that brought our final total to around $3,400 for the whole month!!! Not bad at all when our original goal was just $1,000. The winners and prizes are awarded on Monday so we'll see how I stacked up against the rest of the NT. I'm happy with how everything turned out and feel lucky to have had the opportunity to help make an impact in peoples lives here in Darwin outside of basketball.

Our Eagles basketball club end of the season banquet went very well and we had a good time spending it with everyone from the club. Bobby and myself were also there for the youth banquet to help support the kids and mess around with them on the dance floor :)
-The Eagles mens senior team-

-Here's a picture of Reidy our President for the club-

After my last night of work tonight there won't really be much that I "have" to do haha. Saturday is the grand finals day for the youth teams as well as the senior squads so I will most likely be at the gym allllll day supporting some of our youth teams that made it to the Finals as well as to watch the finals mens game at night. Saturday night should be a fun one too because all of the teams will be out on the town since the season will officially be done and over with! So i'm looking forward to getting out on the town with all the fellas one last time, I'll definitely miss some of these guys out here for sure. I've had a great time while here in Darwin and wouldn't of change it for the world. I've met some great people and played some good bball, everything I wanted and more. I can only hope that Perth has just as much to offer me as Darwin has.... we'll see!

I think this will be my last post until I start up again in February when I'm over in Perth for the 2011 season with the East Perth Eagles! The paperwork is coming through today for me to sign and then all will be finalized!

I want to give a big shout out to everyone who reads my blog, I appreciate it. It definitely helps keep me busy and also helps me look back on the good times I've had while traveling the world playing ball. I also want to thank friends and family for another bball season of support through Skype and emails! If it wasn't for them I know I wouldn't be where I am today. Finally I gotta give all the props to God for blessing me with the ability to play this game and stay healthy and in shape. Hard work always pays off, remember that!!!

This is Big Matt signing off for the last time from Darwin 2010.....PEACE!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Season is officially over....13 days till take off!!

Since my last post we've played two games, I'll start with last Tuesday against the 5th place Lightning. This was a team that was finally starting to play really well and had won the last two games they played before us, beating teams that they had never beaten before. They were already out of the playoff hunt but were finally clicking as a team and looking to hurt some records. We came into the game a little over confident and didn't come out to a great start. We were only up by about 2 at halftime. I had already scored 15pts and was feeling in a pretty good rhythm. It wasn't until about the end of the third quarter where we finally kicked into gear and took the game over. We ended up winning by 17pts I believe and that was our last regular season game. I finished with 27pts and a career high 32rebounds!!!

Now it was on to the playoffs and if you lost from this point on you were DONE! We ended the regular season in 3rd place so we were to play the 4th place team in a knockout game, winner moves on. That team would be the Warriors, a team that has added an import each time we've played them. During the course of the season we beat them 3 out of 4 games, losing the last game when they reached a total of 4 American imports to our 2. We knew this game was going to be very tough and hard fought as they are also a very scrappy team. We started off in a FUNK and ended up down by about 16pts at halftime. Once the 3rd quarter hit I knew we needed some energy and after a big dunk and backboard slap (by yours truly) down the middle of the key, it was ON! We quickly made a run back into the game and pulled the deficit to 2 points going into the fourth quarter. It was a grudge match from there on out, back and forth. We had 3 different occasions tie the game or take the lead within the last 2 minutes, but struggled to make free throws....It's a sad thing when it comes down to free throws and you lose a season ending game. It wasn't me though, it was one of our local players and he just couldn't pull through for us this time. We ended up losing by 3 pts in the closing seconds. I didn't get as many shots as usual because they played in a zone defense all game and we didn't move the ball very well. I only finished with 14pts and 7rebs.

Overall I had a really good season here in Darwin and averaged 23.4points, 14.8rebounds, 2.1assists and 1 block per game. All of these statistics are season highs for me and I look to build on them as I progress in my professional career. I am very happy with the way things turned out and feel like we grew as a team over the length of the season and I grew as a player and a leader as well. I wish the best to these guys out here for future seasons and you never know if maybe I'll make it back up north to play in the NT again..??? The Eagles club has been amazing to play for! I've felt like part of a family while here in Darwin and I've got to say that it's made me feel very comfortable and at ease in order to do my job on the court. I wouldn't of wanted it any other way! Much love to everyone here in Darwin, ESPECIALLY momma Donna!

Things at work have been rolling right along as usual. My U.G.L.Y. fundraiser has really started to take off! We're now at $1,300 after a few friendly donations and we still have another 6 days until all the money has to be turned in. I have a big raffle set up for Friday night where we are going to auction off a XXXX (brand of beer) keg that I got donated for free. That alone should bring in a few hundred dollars. I think we should be able hit around $1,500-1,700 dollars by the 1st of December, well above and beyond our original goal of a $1,000. I'm happy that I've been able to be a part of this project as I have some very close people in my life that suffer from cancer each and everyday. It's been a fun experience wearing my UGLY t-shirt at work everyday and getting to hear all of the funny remarks from the customers. I've also enjoyed the conversations with customers about what has happened in their lives that has lead them to donate to the cause. Overall it's been a humbling experience to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation. It truly feels good to give.

As far as my last 2 weeks go here in Australia, it should be pretty busy. I have worked scheduled until the 5th, but I may be heading to Perth for a little meet and greet with my new team and management (but nothing is for sure yet...). I still haven't signed any paperwork yet, but that should all be taken care of by the end of this week. There were some things that needed to be added to the original version once we (my agent and myself) received it last week. I am really excited to get home and take about a week off from bball then get right back on the GRIND and prepare myself for this next season in Perth!!!

Our team presentation and end of the year party is this Saturday night and should be a lot of fun. I think they will be handing out some awards and we'll just be able to eat, dance and hang out as a group. Should be a good time!

Other than work for this last 2 weeks I have still have my 3 schools that I've been going to for the last 6 weeks to finish up. I've had a good time with the kids and it's once again taught me a lot about what to be ready for one day when I have mine hahahaha. I've always thought about one day coaching and it still creeps into my head every now and then, especially after I get to spend a certain amount of time with a group of kids and they grow on me. I guess I'll always consider coaching as a career after I'm done playing since I'm sure I'll still want to be around the game of basketball as long as I'm still living. Who knows, but as for now I'm fine with just having to deal with the kids for an hour a week hahaha! MAN they can be a handful!

I think that's about for now and I'm not sure if I'll have another post or not for the time being, BUTTTTTTTTTTTTT I'll probably do one more before we take off outa here. So until then, best wishes to all my people back home and other friends in other countries balling. I can't wait to be back in the beautiful Northwest and some COLD weather!

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!! I'm definitely gonna miss eating all that goooooooooood food and taking several naps throughout the day.... I hope everyone gets to enjoy the day with some family!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sunday Service...A new contract for the 2011 season...and 23 days until homebound!!

So it's been about 2 weeks since my last post and a TON has happened, i'm just hoping that I can remember it all as I write this hahah!

I guess I'll start of by saying that I was offered a contract last week by the East Perth Eagles of the SBL (state basketball league) in WA (western Australia) Perth!! I am suppossed to receive the paperwork early this week to sign and all will be set in stone!! I am SUPER excited as it was my goal to have a contract lined up before leaving Darwin to head home for Christmas, and sure enough I achieved it!! I can't be more thankful for yet another blessing in my bball career, it's a crazy business to be in but I love every moment of it! Nothing like a Christmas present to yourself :). All the hard work I've put in this past year is really paying off and deals are starting to fly in at me left and right! So needless to say I'll be returning to Australia February 19th for pre-season training with my new squad!!

I am also super pumped that about 3-6 AIA (athletes in action) guys will be in Perth playing ball as well for other teams!!! There was a good group of guys out there this past season and I know they had a blast all getting together for church and bible studies every so often. I'm really looking forward to that situation and being able to grow spiritually with some other ballers. The last situation I had like that was in England with Johny O. and I miss that a lot. It's been tough at times out here w/o anyone to push me to stay on track and further my walk with God, so I'm really excited about that!!

On to other news....

We played last Tuesday against the TV Jets and ended up winning by about 25pts. It was a game that sealed us in 3rd place for the playoffs! I had 24pts and 14rebs. So from that point on it doesn't matter how we do the last 2 games of the regular season, ALTHOUGH of course we want to win every game and get in a good rythm as a team going into the playoffs. So last night we had our final Saturday game of the regular season. We played against the Rebels who are currently tied for 1st place and are a tough team, although they are not deep off the bench at all. It was a battle and we made a great run in the 4th quarter to cut their lead to 6 but couldn't pull out the victory. We ended up losing by 9 points, but hopefully we will get another shot at them for the championship game... I finished with 21pts and 13rebs. Now we have our final game on Tuesday against the Lightning who we have already beaten 2 or 3 times. Then it's on to the first round of the playoffs the following Tuesday. I'm excited to see how things pan out, I think our guys will be ready to roll.

In our game last Tuesday I took an elbow to the face and got my lower lip busted open through my tooth!!! I ended up playing the rest of the game, but had to go get 3 stitches later that night at the ER hahaha. It actually didn't hurt as bad as you think it would... Anyway I've got them in for a week then I'll get them taken out. Might have a nice little scar for that one :)

Work has been pretty busy actually. I'm getting 4-5 days a week and it's keeping me busy passing the time. I've decided to work up until the 6th of December, right before I take off. My U.G.L.Y. fundraiser is still going very well and we're currently up to $640, almost to our $1000 goal! I still have until December 1st to get all my funds raised and turned in to be eligible to win the contest, so we're making good progress.

The schools I've been working at weekly have been going well and I'm having fun teaching them some new things. It's always a challenge to get 25-30 kids to focus for a whole hour but that's part of the fun of it all haha. Every time I'm around the kids it makes me think about when I have kids how crazy the whole journey is gonna be! Being a parent must be quite the experience... It's definitely a FULL time job hahaha. I'm looking forward to it, let's just say that (although I have no plans anytime soon to be a Dad so get that mixed up haha!).

I finally made it into a church for a service today!! It's been WAYYYYY to long and it felt nice to be back in it again (even though I do online services every week, it's just not the same). I went to a christian church just a few minutes from our house and it was a small but nice play to worship and get my Jesus time in. I'll definitely be there for my last few Sundays I have left!!

As you can tell from the title there's 23 days and counting until I touch down in SeaTown and I can't express to you how excited I am to be coming home!!! It's more than ever before when I've been out of the country... Although I must say that I am going to miss being here in Darwin. It really feels like home here and a big reason for that is Momma Donna. She has made this situation here feel just like home! I've been treated and loved like a son and can't express how much I appreciate that. I'm definitely planning up something nice for her before I leave! I've really been lucky to make some nice friends while I've spent my time on the road the past 5-6 months. I couldn't be any more happy for the past 2 contracts I've had. This is just the beginning of my career in Australia though!!

I often catch myself thinking while at work or on the way to the bus stop or while getting shots up at the gym. I really am truely blessed to be able to do what I do and travel and see the world. I know I am missing things back home, but honestly every time I come back not much has really "changed". People are usually still doing the "same old" things and still working at the same old jobs. So as much as I sometimes think about hanging up the shoes for the "real world" again I usually quickly correct myself and remember how lucky I am to be doing what I do . There's a bunch of guys who would love to be in my position and "trade" lives... I always end up talking to old teammates and all they ever say is "keep playing until you can't do it anymore!!" I think that's the right advice to give. As much as there are certain things and people back home that I want to be with 24/7 I believe in my heart that God has me doing what I'm doing for a reason. I'm on his path and it just happens to be as a professional bball player, what I always wanted to be...

Well it's going to be another super busy week with 5 days of work and a game on Tuesday night, but I'm sure it'll fly by like it has been. I hope all is going well for those back home and life is treating ya good! I'm thinking about everyone a ton and appreciate all the emails and skype calls that I get weekly, it makes me feel NOT so far from home :). Have a great and uplifting week, catch ya next time!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy Halloween!

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Halloween this year! Have fun dressing up for house parties and trick or treating for candy, but remember BE RESPONSIBLE!

It's pretty funny here in Australia of how people view celebrating Halloween. At first I didn't think they did at all(cuz I saw no commercials or advertisements anywhere), but I came to find out that quite a few people actually do. It seems like a lot of people just say "oh it's an American thing, so we don't wanna copy them!". I've also heard that it's really starting to catch on because of kids seeing it celebrated on American TV shows. My co-worker Kathy at work said her grandkids LOVE Halloween! She was curious as to why we even celebrate it and asked me the other day "so, why do you guys celebrate Halloween anyways?? What's it all about?" and I replied "you know what... I have no idea!! hahaha". I've never really been asked the question to even have to think of why we celebrate Halloween (maybe I should GOOGLE it???). I can't remember at all and even if I did ever know that was probably something I was taught back in Elementary school(wayyyyy to long ago). Anyways, it pretty much seems like another reason for people here to dress crazy, party and get pissed (drunk).

This Tuesday we have a bye week for basketball so I'm gonna be working because there's a pretty big event at the Cas Club. It's the Melbourne Cup horse races and it's supposedly like our Kentucky Derby just not quite as big. I guess we're expecting 200+ people and I'm quite sure they'll be bringing the kids as well. It should be an interesting day to say the least. I have to wear a button up white collared shirt and a black tie, I guess it's THAT kinda event haha..... On another working subject, I recently opened 3 of the 7 tins for my U.G.L.Y. contest/fundraiser and we counted $360 so far thats raised! Not bad for only 3 tins, and I'm assuming after Tuesday's festivities with a bunch of drunk people running around and feeling good hopefully the other tins will benefit from that lol! With an online donation already of $30 that brings the total to $390. SOOOO only another $600 to go with a whole month left!! Once again if you would like to help my efforts for fundraising you can donate online at my personal Leukaemia Foundation page:®istrationID=365760

I've officially got my ticket home now!! It's set for December 8th and returning back to Sydney on February 19th 2011. I'm quite confident that I will have a contract to come back to, whether it's in South Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide) or West Australia (Perth). Either way a round-trip ticket was less expensive than a one-way ticket (which is crazy to me!), so even if I don't want to come back out to Australia (like if I get a better contract offer from another country or some other random reason keeps me from coming back) it's still the cheaper alternative. I just hope that the season ends by August 20th so that I'm home in time for my brother's (Ad) wedding! Even if it's not I'll still leave early, because there's no way in the world I'm missing that!!!

Now that the NBA season has started I'm loving it even more out here because they show up to 4 games a week on regular tv, so it's awesome! Everywhere I've played overseas I've had to find a link online and watch a game that pauses every 10 seconds as it loads haha. Plus the games come on around 9 or 10AM so it's usually around the time I wake up (on a good day :) hahaha! It's usually more like 11-ish). Australia definitely makes me feel the most "at home" I've ever felt out of all the places I've been, even being so far away.

This week should be a busy one as I'm working 5 days straight at the Cas Club, doing my usual 3 school sessions AND Evan told me that there's going to be a few school clinics to do as well...Should be hectic at times, but the money will be rolling in and time will be flying by :). Both two things I don't mind at all!

One side note before I wrap this up. I went and saw Paranormal Activity 2 tonight. Please save your money AND time and don't watch that movie. It was worse than the first!

So I'll start the OFFICIAL countdown today with 38 days remaining till I'm homebound!!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

T-Minus 39 days and counting!!!!

SOOOOOOOOOOO it's been about a week and a half since my last post and quite a bit has happened since then....

We'll start with my bball games first....

Last Tuesday we played against Ansett basketball club (who my buddy Colin plays for). They were in 2nd place at the time, just ahead of us. It was a good game up until the 3rd quarter where we slowly fell apart. It was obvious that we don't have much fire power coming off the bench to help Bobby and myself, which can really hurt when we play a team that IS deep off the bench (like Ansett). We ended up losing by around 15-20pts, if I remember right (I try to forget about the losses shortly after the game is over). I personally struggled shooting that night at 3-15 and finished with 13pts and 16 rebounds.

We then played a game this past Saturday against the Razzle (currently winless and in last place). They are a young and inexperienced team with no imports and have yet to really play anyone tough. I won't get into much detail since we won by about 45pts. Me and Bobby only played about 20-25mins so that other guys could get some good playing time and experience on the court. I finished the game with 24pts and 12 rebounds.

Finally, the last game we played during this past week and a half was on Tuesday against the Warriors (who are currently in 4th, about 3 wins behind us). We've already beaten this team twice but each time they've added a new American player. So now they have 4 import players on their team, where as most other teams only have 2. Even with their new and improved team they've been struggling to play together and win. We knew it would be a scrappy game to say the least. We were up by 2pts going into half time then they came out on a run to start the 3rd quarter and took the lead to about 10pts. From then on it was back and forth until the closing minutes of the game. There were some pretty "shaky" calls from the refs that really hurt us at times and we couldn't break into any rythm to take over the lead. We ended up losing by 8pts. I fouled out for the first time this season on some pretty soft calls. I finished with 16pts and 7 rebounds. We are now 10-5 and still in 3rd place by 3 wins over the Warriors. There are only 3 regular season games left and only the top 4 teams make the playoffs so we are already locked in!!! We still need to finish the season on some good wins going into the playoffs.

Now for life other than bball...

Work has been going great and I'm still having fun each shift I have (plus the free meal is always something to get excited about lol)!! My U.G.L.Y. campaign is going great and the the tins have been getting heavier and heavier each day. I bet we already have 600-800$ just in the tins alone! I'm thinking I will open 3 or 4 of the 7 tins on Sunday to get a rough number of where we stand thus far! I am currently planning a few fun things for sometime in mid November that will hopefully bring in a few hundred bucks, like a pool and dart tournament. With a few fundraising events I should be able to reach my $1,000 goal pretty easy. I'm excited to help this cause in any way possible and of course be eligible for some neat prizes too. If you would like to help me in my goal by donating you can do so online at my personal Leukemia Foundation webpage! Here is the link below (just copy and paste it into your address bar). We all know someone in our everyday lives that is affected by a cancer of some sort. It's time to make a difference. Any ammount helps guys!!!!®istrationID=365760

This past Saturday we had a team gathering after our game we won. It was one of the first Saturdays I've had off since I've started working so I was happy to get to kick it with the fellas. It was the first time we've actually all gotten together to hang out. We all went over to Anthony's house (he's our team captain) and played some poker, ate some good food and a few people took a late night dip in the pool (cuz it was still about 90degrees at 2AM!!! geez!). It was a lot of fun and I'm glad everyone showed up to hang for a while. Hopefully we can do it again soon, especially before time runs out and it's time to go home.

So as you can tell from the title of this post I have 39 days till it's blast off from Darwin and back to the lovely Northwest! I haven't exactly gotten a ticket yet BUT when I do it should be around December 6th. The championship game is on December 4th and we're planning on being in that game so I'll be leaving shortly after we take down the nets :). I'm really excited to be coming home for a few months and can't wait to see friends and family! I feel like a lot has happened these past 5 months I've been gone and I'm ready to catch up with everyone!

I don't have any concrete deals set up yet for the 2011 season, but as it typically goes in this business you don't get something until you least expect it haha! I'm in contact with a few teams right now in Perth and also Adelaide but nothing for sure yet. My agent is also starting to push my name out there to teams in all areas of Australia so I'm very positive things will happen eventually. The next season doesn't start until March and the recruiting is still in the early stages at the moment, but it would be nice to leave here already having a contract set up! Nice Christmas present to myself :). We'll see what happens as time goes on...

The Smith house has now been on the market for about two weeks and there hasn't been any offer quite yet, but it sounds like theres definitely been some interest from a few families. Hopefully an offer will pop up soon because it sounds like the fam has found a nice house to make an offer on in Edmonds, but can't make any moves on it until our house sells first! Fun times :). Be praying for a nice family to find our home soon.

Well I think that's about it for now... I hope this post reaches all of you in good health and spirits. I'm constantly praying for everyone back home. I miss you all very much!

I'll leave you all with a quote- "The only disability in life is a bad attitude" by Scott Hamilton-

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Friday, 15 October 2010

U.G.L.Y. you ain't got no alibi, YOU UGLY!

So as you can see from the pics I am officially the UGLY (Understanding-Generous-Likeable-You) Bartender for the Casuarina Sports Club! As I was at work a few days ago this lady named Shelly who works for the Leukemia Foundation approached me about representing the Cas Club to be the UGLY bartender, so without any delay I said I'd love to do it. She then told me about the foundation itself and what the goals of this contest/fund raiser are going to be. Basically I try to raise as much money as possible through different events that I plan out at the Cas Club. It can be raffles, pool tournaments, Kareoke nights, etc... And whatever money is made from those events will go straight to the foundation. All money has to be turned in by Dec.1st so it's really only about a month and a half of time to raise as much as possilbe. We also get a bar mat that says "I'm UGLY i need your help!" and some tips jars and posters to hang up around the bar so people know whats going on and can help the cause. If I can raise over a $1,000 then I will be entered into a drawing to win a bunch of prizes/vacations, so it should be a lot of fun.
I've been wanting to do something for the community of Darwin (outside of bball) while I'm here and have been lazy with really trying to get involved. So I felt like this was God's way of saying "here's a good opportunity for you!" I hope I can put a lot into this and really help make a difference for a few people here in Darwin that need help.

On another note. We had a bball game this past Tuesday and I told coach I was ready to play but wasn't 100% quite yet. The ankle was more like 80%, still a little tender when making cuts and lateral movements. So I started off playing about 3-4 minutes in the first half, and it wasn't a pretty half for the Eagles. We were playing a team that's been having trouble winning games, but they are hungry for a win. At halftime the game was about a 5pt lead for us. Going into the second half coach Wombat looked at Bobby (his leg had been bothering him, so he wasn't playing much either) and myself and said "Soooooo how does it feel, can you guys go more or what??" So we said "yeah, lets do it." We finally pushed the lead up to 20pts at one moment then it slowly drizzled away and we were stuck in a dog fight with less than 4 minutes to go. It finally came down to 19 seconds and we had the ball, tie game, Bobby was dribbling around up top and waiting to make a move. He then dribbled to my side and kicked it in to me. I made a move and got fouled with 7 seconds left! With no hesitation i knocked down both free throws to go up 2 points! ICE IN MY VAINS BABY! The other team called a timeout and got to advance the ball to half court. We had 2 fouls to give and decided to foul them as soon as they passed in the ball, before they could get a shot off. To run the clock down of course. Well after we made our 2 fouls the clock was left at 3 seconds and their final inbounds was a turnover and that was it! We escaped with a close victory, but that's all that matters. We are now 9-3 and in 3rd place but only 1 loss behind 2nd and 2 losses behind 1st. So the top of the ladder is a close competition. I finished the game with 28 points and 12 rebounds. I think I only had about 7 points in the first half and then went on a killing spree in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. But that's when it's time to take the "CLAMPS" out and shut things downnnnnn baby! hahaha
Anyway the ankle is feeling better and hopefully after another week of rest I will be 100% for our next game. This is a very important game because we are playing the #2 team who beat us prettY badly last time around, so we're out for revenge. Plus this is Colin's team (my buddy from Seattle who's out here with me), so that always makes for some good ol' trash talking :)

Work is still work and it's just motoring right along no problem. I get to start my "school sessions" this week finally. I will have 3 schools for this whole semester until Christmas break, one Monday, Tuesday and one Thursday. It will always be the same school at the same time. They are a one hour session and will just consist of teaching some bball skills and playing lots of games. The goal is to get kids interested in not only basketball but the idea of being active. So it should be a lot of fun, plus I'm getting $40 an hour so that's not bad either lol!

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately as I always have time either at work when it's dead, or on my bike ride to the gym, or just as I lay in my bed before I shut things down for the night. This life can be sooooooo crazy/fun/boring/frustrating/awesome/stressful/exciting at times that we can forget to be thankful for the many day to day blessings in our life. I am very thankful for the family, friends, opportunities and struggles that I have in my life everyday. If it wasn't for those people and times I know I wouldn't be who I am and where I am today. There's a quote by Charles Swindoll that says "life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it". I've always liked that quote and thought it made a lot of sense. You can always take something positive from a negative situation, BUT that all depends on how you react to it...

Before I wrap this post up I wanna give a shout out to the Henley fam as they have recently had a tragic loss in their family. You all are in my thoughts and prayers. Please say a prayer for the family...

Until tomorrow...
"Make it Happen"

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

I hate injuries...

So here's the update from our NT all-star game... The home crowd really came out so show some support for us as the gym was almost fully packed. It wasn't the greatest weekend for the tournament as there was also a Rugby and Cricket tournament going on that same night (both those sports come first in Australia haha), otherwise the gym would've been sold out. We as a team were as ready as we could've possibly been, we only had a month to prepare and a total of 16 practices (most of which we didn't have the whole team there because of work obligations for everyone). From the start of the game the pressure was intense from the Adelaide 36ers and our first 4 possessions were all turnovers haha. They came out and shot the ball well building a 10 point lead after the first quarter. We finally got things rolling a little bit but definitely not enough to make it a game and we ended up down 25 points by half time. Towards the end of the first half I went up and had a real nice block shot, BUT as I came down I ended up on someones foot and I rolled my left ankle pretty bad. As soon as it happened I hobbled off the court and talked to the trainer to see what he could do for me. He taped me up during half time as I wanted to give it a go and see what I could do, but as soon as I got back in the game I knew it was a "no go" and subbed myself out right away. I took my shoes off and started icing my foot for the rest of the game. It really sucked because I was looking forward to playing against the top level of competition in Australia and I had a good game in the making before I got hurt. 7 points, 4 rebounds and 1 block by half time. Everything happens for a reason though, and it's all about how you bounce back and react from it!

Even though we got beat by about 30 points or so it was still a great opportunity to play and an even better opportunity for the NT (darwin) to show that they have some good talent up here and can compete (especially if there's more time to prepare).

As soon as I got hurt Momma Donna has been taking care of me 24/7. She's had my foot in an ice bucket at least twice a day and has been elevating my leg when I'm just chilling and not paying attention to it. She really is my Mum out here and I appreciate everything she does not only for me, but for the Eagles club and NT basketball. She is a true fan.

We (the eagles) had our usual Tuesday game the other day and of course I had to sit it out because of the ankle... I hate sitting out! Now it wouldn't of bothered me as much if we playing a team in the bottom of the ladder, but we were playing the Rebels who are currently in 1st place and have only 1 loss that was to us when we played them last time!! So I'd been waiting for this re-match to come. Other than myself being out hurt our other two starters are still out as well! Anthony, our captain and starting PG and JJ our starting 2 guard and scores about 15ppg for us. So Bobby was really on his own with trying to make things happen for us, both offensively and defensively. To my surprise we were actually winning at halftime by 1 point. We were playing great team ball and a lot of the local guys were stepping up. But we came out ice cold in the 3rd quarter and only scored about 6 points to their 20 or so, as well as Bobby had picked up his 4th foul (so that really didn't help). Bobby ended up fouling out with 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter and the lead took off to about 25-30 points and that was a wrap. It was a really frustrating game for me as I haven't had to sit out and actually watch a game for a while now (which I am very thankful for), but I cheered my guys on the whole time and tried to encourage them in the best ways I could. I know we'll bounce back next week with a win and we'll DEFINITELY catch the Rebels again and show them exactly why we won the first time around. I'm hoping to be able to practice on Sunday night and then be ready to go next Tuesday but coach told me that if I'm not 100% then he's not gonna risk me getting re-injured and being out even longer... So I'm praying for a quick and strong recovery!

That's about it for now... I hope everyone is doing well and life is treating you good! I miss everyone back home in the USA and think about you all a lot. You are all in my prayers every night! Much love

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Today's the BIG day...

Tonight we (the NT all-star team) tips it off against the Adelaide 36er's from the NBL. We play at 6pm and its suppossed to be a packed sold out stadium in front of our home crowd. It's going to be televised live on channel ONE HD, so I told as many people who can't make it to at least tune in on the tv. All the guys are ready to go as we had an early morning run-thru practice session to talk strategy and what not. I'm excited and blessed to have this opportunity to play, hopefully some good things can come from just this one never know in this life who is watching... we'll see! I'll update everyone on how it goes.

We (the Eagles) had a game this past Tuesday against the TV Jets and lets just say we were "saved by the buzzer" hahaha. We started out pretty cold missing some easy lay-ups (bobby and myself, but mostly ME lol). We finally got warmed up and in rythm then extended our lead to 15pts by halftime. We pushed the lead to 20 at times but the Jets slowly worked their way back minute by minute as the game went on. Next thing you know we're only up 4 with about 2 minutes in the 4th quarter. We had the ball with about 15 seconds left, up 2, and Bobby was just dribbling around running out the clock waiting for them to foul. BUT they ended up stealing it away and with about 3 seconds left tried for a fast break, only to lay it in as the buzzer was going off!!! hahah we got lucky that night and we know it! I finished with 33 points and 15 rebounds. I finally shot the ball well from the 3pt line going 4-4. I should've finished with about 45 points if I would've just made about 5 of the EASY layups I blew hahaha. Oh well, we got the "W" and that's all that matters (after getting your stats anyway hahaha! Just keeping it real BABYYYY)

Even the President (Reedy) finally decided to show up to a game for a WIN!

Other than bball life in general has been going great. Everyone in the Smith clan back home on the west coast has seem to of caught a "love bug" because now i've just heard that another one of my cousins is getting married!!! GEE WILLIKERS.... now that makes 4 family members (3 cousins and 1 brother) engaged since 2010 began... Am I missing the boat here??? Or am I just fine with where I'm at??? Hahahaha I think I'm ok with not being married quiteeeeeeeee yet (I'll just focus on having a date for the weddings ;) ).... I hope I'm around the town to get to catch some of these weddings eventually, but I don't know when exactly I'll be home quite yet.

My parents just recently put our house of 15 years on the market :( haha. No i'm just joking, I'm not sad! I'm glad they are moving and making a change of scenery, I think it'll be fun to move into a new place and design it and have house warming parties and such. I just wish I was home to have helped out with all the painting that took place and all the lifting/moving thats left to come. It's all an exciting process though and there are 2 open houses this weekend, so send your prayers that a nice family will be interested in buying our crib!

Life out here is day to day, but going great! It's pretty much just bball and work everyday, but in a few weeks I will start doing school sessions too, twice a week at local schools around the area of Karama. That will be fun and also another good form of income :)! Bball sessions aint free coming from an American Professional basketball player baby haha! Work has been good, but just a little slow at times. Still I'm very grateful to be where I am and working with the people I do, it's a fun group.

I was able to speak with the Head Coach from the Adelaide Bearcats of the ABA league in South Australia. He came up this week to watch some of his players play in the NBL tournament as he is also an agent in his free time. He also heard about Bobby and myself and decided to come up and hopefully get to meet us while he was here. He was a nice guy and looking for a player like myself for his team for next season! So i passed him some game films and highlights to take home and watch (as he can't stay for tonights game). We'll be in touch and hopefully he likes what he sees and this team will be a possibility for next season!! I'm excited for the next step in my career already, but I can't get to far ahead of myself quite yet! One step at a time for now...

I think that's about it for now. I hope everyone back home is doing well! Thanks again for following me throughout this blog and enjoying some special moments with me! I appreciate allllllll the love and support from everyone, if it wasn't for ya'll I don't know if I'd be where I am today... I'd probably still be running around Nordstroms looking at 90yr old women's feet (YUCK!!!) hahahah! Remember life is good, but GOD is great!

Until tomorrow...
"Make it happen"

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Another week another Aussie dollar

Wassup my people!! I hope everyone's life is rolling along just fine with all smiles and no major problems!

So since my last post we had a bball game Tuesday against the Warriors. They are a team with two imports (americans) and some decent local guys, but they have struggled to win games and that leaves them towards the bottom of the board. But we still had to respect them as they are a scrappy team and fight hard. Let's just say it was an UGLY game haha, but we got the win. The final score was something like 65-57. I finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Definitely didn't shoot the ball well at 5-19fg's, 0-5 from 3pt land. Lately my stroke from deep has been a little bit off and i'm trying to zero it in like when I was in Malaysia. Our next match is Tuesday night against the TV Jets. We are currently 7-2 and I believe tied for 2nd place at the moment.

As far as the NT All-Star team goes the coaches ended up being able to keep all 5 of us Import players on the team!! The coaching staff talked to the NBL management about the situation up here with not as many local guys coming out to play so they decided to let us keep more import guys on the squad. So that's exciting and we should be able to compete a lot better with more americans on the team. Our game is going to be Saturday night at 6pm and we'll be playing against the team that finishes in 8th place, so that's still to be determined at the moment. It should be a great opportunity to showcase our skills so that the coaches of the NBL teams can watch us and possibly even want us for the following season, you never know...

This past week both Bobby and I were asked to do some bball sessions at the Darwin Juvenile Detention Center. So we decided we'd give it a go and have some fun with the boys. We went on Tuesday and Thursday for around 2 hours each time. The boys there were anywhere from 14 to 17 years old and were locked up for a number of things from stealing to fighting, etc. Each kid had to wear a certain colored t-shirt based on what "level" they were classified as by the Juvenile Center. Blue being the "better behaved" kids and Orange being the kids that were probably gonna move to the Prison once they hit 18yrs old. At first I'm not gonna lie, I was skeptical as to how well these kids would wanna listen and actually try in some drills, relays and games. BUT to my surprise the kids were AWESOME and probably one of the best groups I've ever done a session with! They not only listened really well, but got into every relay race and shooting competition with so much enthusiasm and even support for each other. I was happy to see them having fun and getting good exercise in at the same time. They were a good group of boys, but just had a tough up-bringing and probably not the best group of friends outside the walls of the Center. It was fun to help out and a nice change of pace for the week. Just another reason to look at my life and be thankful for the family I have and the situation I'm in. Gotta give praise to the big man upstairs aka GOD!

Work has really been going well. I'm getting a steady 4 days a week, which is perfect. I've met some good people, ate some gooooooooood food :) and really enjoyed getting to do something other than hoop 24/7. I'm looking forward to the next few months, it should be fun!

I've been in contact with some coaches over in Perth WA (western Australia) and also down in South Australia in regards to next season, which for them starts in Feb/march and goes until August. It's always exciting once recruiting starts for a new season. There's emails, phone calls and even in-person meetings that happen. It's part of the business that's really exciting to be involved in! There's nothing like knowing that a couple teams "want" YOU to play for them, it's definitely lets you know that all the hard work and grinding has paid off. So over the next few months I'll be updating everyone as to where it'll look like I'm going to end up for the next 6 months of my professional basketball career. As for now I'm loving Darwin and the situation here, it couldn't be any better (at least from what I can control anyway :) ).

I miss everyone tons at home. Soooooooooo much seems to be happening with the family its crazy! I can't wait to be able to see everyone and get caught up. Thanks to all for following me and this crazy journey i'm on. I would love to get updates on what's going on in your life too!! Hit me up on Skype or by email at any time. All the best until my next post! Cheers :)

Until tomorrow...
"Make it Happen"

Friday, 17 September 2010

NBL first cut...

So we had a game on Tuesday and we got another "W"! We ended up winning by about 30points or so. We played a team called the Razzle and they are on the bottom of the barrel in the leader board standings. They are one of 2 teams that refuse to take on import players and because of that they get the beat down every week haha. It was a fun game as a lot of our guys got some good playing time and court experience. I finished with 24pts, 15rebs and 3blocks. I also had 3 dunks, one of which was a pretty nasty tip dunk! I guess all this bike riding during the week to the gym and back is actually starting to pay off!! :)

Saturday morning we had a training session at 6:30am for the Northern Territory NBL all-star team and afterwards the coaches told us that they were going to be making a cut to 13 players later that day. The list was posted up on the website and I was on it, but there was a total of 5 import (american) players names on the list and there can only be 3 on the final roster for the tournament game. SOOO needless to say the coaches have to make another cut here soon and 2 more import names have to be cut from that list! I've been playing well and am pretty confident that I'll get a spot on the team, but I'm still working hard everyday!
One of the nice things about this NBL all-star team is that we practice like 5 times a week compared to the once a week practice for the Eagles team. We practice Saturday morning and night, Sunday night, Monday night, wednesday night and Thursday morning. So this is a great opportunity to play against good competition each practice (9 or so import players and best local players) and get in better cardio shape (cuz we run a lot at these practices). Guys are encouraged to come to every practice even if they don't make the final roster for the team, just to make practices as competetive as possible. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks with this team.

Just wanted to give everybody a quick update on our last game and the All-Star team tryouts. Hope this post finds everyone in a good healthy mood and with a smile on your face :)! Here's a little saying/quote that's been motivating me lately, maybe it will give you a litte something in your tank as well. "If it is to be, then it's up to me"

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Mid September already....

SO since my last post we've had two games. The first was last Tuesday against Ansett bball club (my buddy Colin's team). We were both tied for first place on top of the ladder. From the get go it was a bad game for us. We were down 2 of our starters from injuries, so we knew that was going to be a big problem. They jumped on us and never looked back. We ended up losing by like 30 points and never made it a game (which most people thought it was going to be a good game because our teams are pretty even). I felt like crap through the whole game and had to be subbed out numerous times to rest. I just felt like I had NO energy at all to fight and be physical (almost felt light headed at times). I figured it out and I hadn't eaten enough "pre-game" food close enough to our match!! I had eaten around noon or so earlier in the day and didn't eat again before our 6:30pm game, so I had no "fuel" for our game. I don't know what I was doing or thinking...!!! hahah obviously I wasn't thinking at all!! Anyways I was dissapointed about that game because it was against Colin's team and I wanted to take them down and be able to talk smack to him about it until we play them again :) . But that's not gonna happen quite yet. I finished the game with 14pts and 8 rebounds.
We had the second game this last weekend on Saturday night and played against the Lightning. They are a pretty good team with two import players, but they aren't the best conditioned team. So we started the run game with them and they couldn't keep up, we were up 16 points by half time and finished the game winning by 15 points. I had a slow start with 2 points in the first quarter, but found my groove and finished with 27 points and 19 rebounds. We are currently 5-2 and sitting in second place on the leader board. After 5 games I am averaging 25 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks per game.

This last Sunday a group of us went to Litchfield National Park to swim, hangout, relax and EAT!! I had yet to visit the park so this was my first trip, it's about a 1 1/2 hour car ride out there. We made our first stop at the Termite Mounds. It was crazy how many of them there were and how BIG some of them were. There was like a huge open field with these mounds sticking up out of the ground like tombstones. Reminded me of a cemetery almost.

This was probably the biggest one there! Me, coach Wombat, and JJ.

Me and coach. You can see some of the mounds sticking out of the ground.

After our quick pitstop at the Mounds to take some pics we headed up to Florence Falls to take a dip and relax under the waterfalls. It was gorgeous!

We hung out there for about and hour or so then headed up to the Buley Rockhole where people just hang out in the shallow water and relax, throw the footey around and get their grub on!

We had to get back early Sunday afternoon because Bobby and I both had to get to a try-out for an All-Star NT team. The top league (NBL) is coming to Darwin for their pre-season tournament in about a month, and the NT (Northern Territory aka Darwin) is putting together an ALL-Star team to play against the NBL team who finishes in 9th place of the tournament. We are only going to play 1 game but its still a great opportunity to get to play in front of NBL coaches and scouts. The only draw back is that our team can only have 3 import (american) players on it, out of the 11 that are in Darwin. The rest of the team is going to be local players from Darwin and also Aussie players from other areas of Australia. So it's going to be a fight for who gets those 3 spots! The trials go for a couple days then the coaches will decide who to pick for the squad. I think my chances are pretty good, I'm just staying focused and working hard!

Work has been good and I'm getting around 3-4 days a week. My shift is typically from 4-12 at night so I have the whole day to get my workout in and whatever else needs to be done. I like working the bar and getting to talk to the many different customers and regulars. It's typically pretty busy as the Casuarina Sports Club usually has events going on every night. Anything from trivia night to live music to raffles. It makes time fly by when its busy and drinks are pouring! The best part of my job though is when I get my FREE meal!! YES! I can order anything on the menu that's less than 16$. So i take FULL advantage of that deal hahah! I've discovered a wonderful Sausage and Mash w/ gravy dish that is the most bang for the buck and leaves me full and ready for a nap :) . I'm learning some new drinks and feeling more comfortable behind the bar with every shift.

The scooter I was planning on buying didn't work out, lets just say that... SO now i'm thinking of just possibly buying a "beater" (AKA a crappy car) to get from home to work and back. The wet season build up is really starting to hit now and its getting pretty hot and soon the rains will be here and in full effect, so a car would probably be better than a scooter anyway. I've been doing some online research and found some cars that might be "the one" but nothing yet, I'll keep ya'll updated!

Here is the official website link for our league the DBA. So you can follow our game stats and what not:

Here's my latest highlight video link from my time in Malaysia. Check it out!

I think that's about it for now. Everything is going well out here and time is flying by. I miss everyone at home a ton and hope that all is good! Thanks for all the prayers and thoughts. God Bless!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Cricket match and another "W" on the bball court!

Sunday afternoon coach Wombat(that's his nickname) gave us a call to see if Bobby and I wanted to go watch a Cricket match. There had been a three day tournament going on and our Northern Territory (NT) team was playing. So seeing as though neither one of us had seen a live game before we decided to go and check it out. I guess there's a few variations of cricket. The original game can take up to 5 days to finish one game!!! NUTS! The game we watched is called 20/20. It's the same principles as the original game but it's meant to be finished within 3-4 hours, so hopefully a little more fast paced and exciting. Well, from what we saw, it was everything but exciting and fast paced haha! The game was actually one of the worst games coach Wombat had ever been to. I guess for a good game the score would usually be like 180-160, but our game finished 111-109. At least NT got the win! Cricket is definitely a game that I think you have to grow up on to love.

As you can see Bobby thought the game was QUITE exciting lol!

Yesterday we had another game and this time it was against the Darwin Rebels. They were currently in first place and undefeated at 4-0. They are the only team with more than 2 import players on one team, they have 4. It was a close game down to the fourth quarter but we ended up pulling away and maintaining an 8point lead for the win. That puts us at 4-1 and now tied for first place with Anset t (my buddy Colin from Seattle, his team). I had another good game and came out with 20pts and 11rebs. Our next match is actually Saturday, I guess we'll be having one saturday game each month. So it'll be a quick turnaround to play another game without a practice session before hand, but that's just the way it is out here.

Everything else is going really well and I'm really feeling truly settled in. Today is going to be my second day on the job and I'm hoping that it goes well and I can have some fun at the same time. I've really been blessed to be put in this situation. It honestly feels like I'm not to far from home and I think my mum out here has a lot to do with it. Donna takes care of us (me and Bobby) like we're her own kids. She makes us feel at home more than anyone else out here. We eat dinner together, watch CSI or another detective show together every night, she's always at the gym when we are (at least for reffing and games, not working out), gives us rides to where ever we need to go, etc. She really cares about this club a lot and puts more into it than anyone else involved with the Eagles. She is definitely the "mum" of the whole team and I am thankful for her.

I hope everyones summer was good, because from what I'm hearing it sounds like the summer is longggggggggggg gone!!! Geez Seattle is weak sometimes! It's been really nice to catch up with a lot of family and friends as of late. I'm glad that someone invented Skype otherwise this whole playing ball overseas thing wouldn't be so great. I keep everyone in my prayers and thoughts all the time!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Another WIN and got hired for a job! Man what a good week so far!

So I'm officially the new bartender at the Casuarina Sports Club! God has answered my prayers of finding a job, I just didn't think it would be as a bartender haha! The Casuarina Club is a members only establishment, so people can't even enter unless they have paid for a membership. The Cass Club (as they call it for short) is also a sponsor of our bball league, the DBA. It's a pretty big place to be at and I think it should actually be a lot of fun. There is an area with 60 slot machines for gambling as well as an area to place bets on sports games and horse races (which is HUGE or as they say MASSIVE out here). There is a full restaurant available then you also have the bar, which is where I will be :). Connected on the outside of the building is what Aussie's call a bottleshop (which is basically a drive-thru liquor store haha). The Cass club is not like other regular bars or clubs downtown, our sports club/bar is going to have a different customer base. Rather than the 20 something year old getting wasted and acting dumb, we'll have more of the older crowd who are responsible (for the most part), but love to gamble and drink haha.

I have absolutley no experience in the Bartending industry, but that didn't seem to matter. I went into work for my "test run"/Interview yesterday for a couple of hours to see if I was going to like it, and if they were going to like me haha. Within 30 minutes I was pouring beers and mixing some cocktails, and I gotta admit, it was FUN! Learning all the beers and drinks will be tough as well as learning to use the register, but give me a week or so and "I'm in there like swimwear baby!!" I think when it gets real busy on certain nights time will fly by (and when you're making almost 30$ an hr that's A-OK). Plus chatting it up with people/customers is what I love to do and that's one of the main jobs you have as a bartender (other than getting them their drink of course). Overall I'm excited that I'll have the chance to learn a new trait/skill and get to meet a lot of new people along the way!

We finally got to play another game this week on Tuesday, after having no game for the past two weeks!!! It was rough to have to wait, but well worth it. We got the win 102-73, I had another good game and ended up with 34pts and 15rebounds. We are now 3-1 and tied for second place! Next week will be a much more difficult game as we get to face the Rebels who are currently 4-0 and on top of the leader board. They have a tough team that consists on 4 import players compared to most other teams who have two import players, but that doesn't matter I'm still ready for the challenge! I really like our team a lot and I feel that we can make it far this season if we keep continuing to gel. Some of our younger players are making positive strides each week and that will only continue to make us a stronger team.

Our host mom Donna has a grandson Cohen who gets to spend maybe 1 night a week over at the house with us so that his parents can have some "alone" time haha. He is about 16 months old and just adorable. He already recognizes me and can pretty much say "matt" although it sounds really funny. This past weekend we (me, bobby, donna and cohen) were all at the gym watching and supporting our younger Eagles players play. Bobby and I wanted to grab a Subway (since I can drive now :) ) and Cohen decided he wanted to come along for the ride hahah! So we strapped him into his car seat and took off. While we were waiting in line for our subs he was sitting at a table listening to Bobby's ipod (which probably wasn't the best music for a 16 month kid to be listening to haha)! He's a funny kid and loves his electronics big time, he already knows how to unlock his moms Iphone! It's cool having him around at times and being able to play with him and just watch him do funny things and try to say new words. I feel like it's kind-of a practice session for me, I've never really had the opportunity to be around or take care of a young baby. I've always be gone from home when my friends or cousins have kids. So it's fun!

This is Cohen with Bobby's cell phone and as you can see Bobby has Cohen's shirt off and his shorts sagging! hahaha it was just for the pic tho!

Cohen with momma Donna getting his grub on while we eat our Subways.

It's been 3 full weeks now and I honestly can't believe it. It's almost been 2 full months since I left Seattle for Malaysia. Time really is precious! So make the best of it!

I wanna give a big shout out to my brother Addison for recently getting engaged to his girlfriend Ashley! I'm happy for you guys and will be home to celebrate in December! Another big shout out to my cousin Robby and his wife Katie for having twins on the way! My family just keeps growing each day, but it's awesome and I can't wait to get home and see what else has changed!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Holler at me when you see me in the streets BABY!

So I got a "push bike" as they call it out here about a week ago from Donna's son. Now I can get myself around whenever I want to and don't have to ask for rides or wait on anyone else. I've been riding back and forth to the gym to meet up with some other fellas to workout and get shots up. It's about a 20 minute ride one way, so its not bad at all plus it's all flat and there's usually a nice cool breeze which makes for a beautiful little bike ride. Any exercise is good exercise seeing as we only practice once a week, so I'm actually happy about getting to ride everyday and keep my legs strong.

I know you see those 20' rims I'm sitting on hahaha!!!

I think I'm gonna call her "BIG RED"

So I've just recently gotten my NT (northern territory) drivers license just in case I ever need to take the car somewhere. It only costs $24 and it all I had to do was show some paperwork (passport, US drivers license, proof of address) and take an eye test. There was no road test or even book test hahah! Which is perfectly fine with me, the only thing they really do different over here is drive on the left hand side of the road, most everything else is the same. Still though it seemed wayyyyyyy toooooo easy to get a license, I could be a TERRIBLE driver (WHICH is obviously not true, I have a pefectly clean driving record :) ) in the US and they wouldn't have any idea! Craziness, but at least it wasn't a hassle.

I've almost been here two weeks now and time is really flying by! We have a bye this Tuesday so we don't play until next Tuesday. We have practice or training as they call it, tonight, which will be my first with the team. As far as my job hunt goes, I have a good ammount of resumes and applications out around town and am just waiting for a call back so I can start ASAP. Don't get me wrong, I definitely enjoy having the entire day to workout, eat, chill, catch up with people online, read, nap (def a favorite), eat again, watch some tv, get on some pushups, BUT I am starting to get a little bit bored of sitting around and am ready to start working! I'm praying for a job by mid-week!
I have yet to find a church to attend while I'm out here, so I've been doing some stuff online following sermons at the Rock Church in San Diego and Mars Hill in Seattle. It's nice to be able to get my daily dosage in without having to even leave the house, praise God for the Internet haha!
I hope that this reaches everyone is good spirits and that all is going well! I hear that the Seattle summer is finally starting to heat up a little bit, which is great. Soak it up while you can, cuz I get that sunshine everYdaY! Suckers muahhh ahhh ahhhh!

Until Tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Monday, 9 August 2010

Beer Can Regata

Yesterday Donna, Bobby and myself went to the Beer Can Regata races down at the beach. It only happens once a year and I guess doesn't happen anywhere else in the world (or so says Donna haha). It was a fun little event and the beach was packed with people. There was also a market/fair set up with a bunch of good food and also some art and craft things for people to shop around. There was about 15 teams that made a boat, most of which were pubs or clubs from Darwin. They also had a sand sculpture competition and also some "foot races" for the kids. The weather was beautiful and I am really getting used to waking up to the sunshine every morning. It was a fun time and reminded me a little bit of home. We used to have foot races at Whidbey Island for the 4th of July, and there's some milk carton boat races at Greenlake that happen in the summertime. A lot of fun!

There are no games this week because of a National tournament for U18's being held at our gym, so this week will just consist of workouts and getting shots up. Our team actually has a bye week next week too, so we don't play for two weeks! Which sucks, but every team will have a bye week eventually so we're just gonna have to ride it out. I'm still in the process of getting my job set up, but should hear something back by today or tomorrow.

All is still going great and it's already been a week now here in Darwin. Hope everyone is having a fun filled summer back home!

Until Tomorrow...
"Make it Happen"

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Goodbye Malaysia ...Hello Darwin

So the Finals weekend came to an end and we ended up losing in the semi-finals to Perak Pharcochem by 11pts. The final night was fun as the NBL league rented out a bar/club for the whole league to come and enjoy, including coaches, management and owners. It was a nice way to end a tough month long season, plus it was nice to get to see everyone in the same spot and not have it be on the court haha.
Although we got knocked out early I decided to enter into the 3pt shootout contest on Sunday night to try to bring home a trophy and some extra cash ;) lol. I was the last one to get knocked out of the first round (so i almost made the finals), but it was still fun to be in!
I really had a great experience in Malaysia and would definitely do it again, or anywhere else in Asia for that matter. I met some great people and made some new friends, played some good bball and ate some good food (minus the food poisoning in week 2 hahah). Nothing much more you can ask for when going in blind into a situation!! The month went well and I ended up averaging around 14pts and 7rebounds a game.

This is me and some of the other imports with LOH, one of the commissioners of the NBL. He was the one that got us all set up with our teams and situations. Good guy!

I arrived in Darwin August 3rd at 4:30AM. My host mom Donna was there to pick me up and take me home, she's awesome! As soon as I got home I went straight to bed and slept till around 2pm, got up, ate some food, chilled out, then went to the gym because we had a game at 7:45pm that same night hahah! No rest for me baby!! We played a team called the Warriors, they were pretty good, but we were better that night. We ended up winning by 13pts or so, I had 32pts and 12rebs. A nice start to my Australian career, and not to bad for no practices with the team too. My team "the Eagles" is made up of a mixture of guys. We have some youngsters at 15, 18 & 20, the we also have some guys who are mid to late 30's. It should be an interesting season here to say the least. The plan is to play well and put up some good stats then get to the next best league in Australia down south in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane. We'll see how that plan exactly pans out :)
As for now I'm getting set up with a job that I'll have for my time while I'm out here and also reffing at the gym for the local men's and women's leagues. I'm looking into working at the Darwin Sports and Recreation Association, so that I can build my work resume at the same time as I build my basketball resume too. Sounded like a smart idea to me :) ! My schedule isn't too busy yet, but will pick up soon and I'm looking forward to that. You can only be online soooo much haha!
I miss all my friends and family back home sooooo much, but it's already been over a month that I've been gone and that leaves only 4 1/2 months left. Time flys when you're having fun! SOOOO let's do it!

Until Tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

week 3 games down, playoffs this weekend...

So we bounced back really well as a team and won 2 of the 3 games this past weekend, putting us in 2nd place at the end of the regular season! I think we did much better than expected by management and the owner, so that's good so far!
We lost the first game against the #1 team on Saturday night by 15pts or so. I had 16pts and 8rebs. We then bounced back and won Sunday night by 18pts or so. I had 16pts and 9rebs. Monday night was going to be a battle and we knew that from the get go. This is the team that's most equally matched against us and was actually tied with us for 2nd place. We won a tough game by 7pts and gave our team a huge mental boost of confidence because we have to now play them in the playoff both Friday and Saturday. I finished that game with 16pts and 9rebs again hahaha! I was really happy with the way I bounced back from being sick week 2, I played big for our team and it felt great!

So now we are back in KL again we're just having practice all week until our game Friday night. We are preparing a new game scheme since we've already played this team 3 times, I think its a smart idea by coach and that it will work really well against their best lineup. This week I'm going to try and get around the city a little bit and possibly see some things that are big "tourist attractions" hahaha. We don't have too much time since we practice twice a day but we'll make it work. I'm thinking maybe I can at least make it up the KL tower and get a birds eye view of KL.

The advertising for the Finals weekend here in KL has been pretty cool. As soon as we got off the bus from Ipoh we saw these huge banners that were put up near the gym. They had shots of each one of the imports from each team as well as some of the best local players from each team too. It's pretty crazy to see yourself up on a huge banner/billboard but obviously it's a big deal out here and they are trying to promote this weekend to the fullest. Now my next mission is to make sure I get a hold of that banner to take home!!! hahaha.

Just one more week here then I'll be flying off to Darwin. It's crazy how fast this month went by, but I can't say how happy and blessed I feel for being able to have this opportunity to play ball in a country where I'm pretty sure I'd never of traveled too. The experience I've had here and the friends I've made was really a huge surprise. Getting off that plane I had NO IDEA what to expect, but it's really been another eye opener for how big this world is and how spoiled we are in the U.S. haha. Overall my first trip to Asia has been a huge success!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Week 2 of games...

So coming into week 2 I definitely wasn't 100% from the food poisoning and de-hydration, but I knew that I still had to play (#1 cuz my team needed me and #2 cuz that's what you do when you're an import player. You don't miss games! haha but no joke really!) So game one I actually suprised myself and came out and played 37minutes. We lost by 12pts to KL Dragons but gave them a good game. I played well and had 17pts and 5 rebs. Saturday night we played against the host team Kinasabah. I could feel that I had lost a lot of my energy from the night before but still fought hard. We won by 3! I had 9pts and 10rebs. Sunday night was a tough one, partially because one of their imports is 6'10" and probably 260lbs! After the first two games the nights before my energy level was really low and I knew this was gonna be a struggle as he's a REAL physical player. We ended up losing by 12pts or so and it was definitely my worst performance yet. I got absolutely manhandled defensively and couldn't hold my ground against him at all. Without much energy and strength it was really tough to compete to full potential against such a big physical guy. I am really looking forward to this weekends game so that I can redeem myself and play better for our club! It feels great to be back to 100%! thank you Lord!

We are currently in Kuala Lumpor. The main city of Malaysia. It's really nice here so far and there are a lot of things to do for entertainment. It's like any big city really, shopping, food, movies and nightlife. Hopefully we will have some down time to get to look around and explore a little bit. My other import teammate Chris played for the Kuala Lumpor team here during their ABL (Asian Basketball League) season so he is really familiar with the area and things to do, which is nice. As of right now we're practicing 2 times a day and preparing for this weekends games, so not too much down time. We are leaving on Saturday for Ipoh which is the location for this weekends games. It's a 1 1/2 hour drive North of Kuala Lumpor. It should be an interesting weekend and I think we've prepared well enough to take a couple wins this weekend. We are currently in 3rd place at 3 wins and 3 losses. There are two teams tied for first at 4 wins and 2 losses. So we are only 1 win out of at least second place. Not bad for having a young and inexperienced team! This will be our last full weekend of games as next weekend is the playoffs, so its time to buckle down.

The Darwin league started last Tuesday and I guess our team lost, but both myself and Bobby (the other import US player) didn't get to play, so that was probably a big reason for the loss. I'm excited to get back to AU and start playing with my team there and finally get settled in! But until then I'm going to continue to enjoy my time here in Malaysia and focus on winning this tournament!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Friday, 16 July 2010

1 Week down 3 to go

I'm gonna start this post back at last Friday's match. It was the first game for us as a team together with everyone. We played a tough 40 minutes and ended up losing by 3pts. I had 14pt and 13rebs. We should've won that game, but we learned a lot from the loss and improved drastically over the next two days. Game 2 we played a better team and after 40 minutes we won by 17pts. I had 8pt and 8rebs. Game 3 we played the favored team of the league the KL Dragons. They had already won their first two games by an average of 35pts. Their team is made up of 2 imports and then all national local players, so you can imagine they are a tough team even off the bench. We fought hard right out the gates and was down 3 pts at halftime. Minded the other coach sat his imports out the whole first half (i guess he thought he would wear us down and then blast us the 2nd half). The second half was hard fought but we made a run mid way through the 4th quarter and they never came back. We won by 13pts! I had 14pts and 6 rebs. That put us at 2 wins and 1 loss and in 1st place through the first weekend. Now we must continue to grow as a team and get better.

Funny story about the third game. It was sometime in the 3rd or 4th quarter when i went up for a shot, as I was running back on defense I noticed my shorts were falling down. I checked my drawstring and sure enough it was broken, I looked at the referee and told him but he did nothing haha. The play continued and I actually blocked a guys shot w/o my shorts falling to the ground. I then started to motion to the coach and bench that I needed a sub, but I was also pulling on my shorts (to try to show them that they were loose). I finally got a quick sub and a new pair of shorts from a teammate then checked back in to a standing ovation! After the game people were coming up to me and saying it looked like I was trying to tell them I had to use the bathroom hahahahah! Anyway it was a pretty funny situation to be a part of, I'm just happy we got the win.

One thing thats funny out here is how much we are treated like superstars after the games. I've never had to smile and pose for sooooooo many pictures in my life. Literally for about 35minutes after each game we (the imports) are taking pictures with the fans. I gotta say it's kinda cool though :)

After our game Sunday we went to eat at the owner's restaurant. It was late, around 12 midnight. There was a buffet of different food. Since I've been out here I've been open to trying new things. I know maybe that's not the smartest idea but I want to experience the culture as much as possible. Well that idea bit me in that AS* lol. As soon as we got back to the hotel to watch the World Cup finals I started to get a back headache and my stomach was acting up and I got the chills. I knew something wasn't right. Luckily we had all monday off, so I just stayed in and rested up. Come Tuesday nothing much had changed so I went and saw a doctor. He said it was probably some food poisoning and also bad de-hydration (even though I drink a ton of water and other iso-tonic drinks). So i was prescribed some medications and started to take them. I started to feel better until we got off the plane for our second weekends games. My stomach started acting up again and I was sweating while I was sleeping. Finally yesterday I went back to another doctor and he gave me some antibiotics as well as some electrolyte packets to drink every 2 hours. He said i was very de-hydrated and needed to replenish quickly. I am starting to feel better already, but I don't know if it will be enough as we play tonight.... I think for sure I will better for Saturday and sunday. As for tonights game I will play in quick spurts of 3-4 minutes rather than 10 straight hahah. It will have to work for today. I cannot push myself as I am only 75% or so right now.

Other than being sick as of late as is still going very well and I'm still having a great time. I am very thankful for this situation and being blessed with being placed on this team with other christian guys. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Since I've been here the team has given me the nickname of "Kwhy-low". They told me that's how other people would describe and call me when they see me around. It basically means "white man" hahahha! But I like the way it sounds when pronounced so I made it stick lol!

I hope everyone is well and in good spirits back home. I am praying for everyone to have a safe, fun and healthy summer!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Friday, 9 July 2010

Bintulu Rainbows

I made it in safely to Bintulu Malaysia on the 5th of July and let me tell you, man am I happy to finally get to unpack my bag after a week or so of traveling hahaha! So now down to business....

We've been practicing twice a day to get ready for this month long season. Our first 3 games are this weekend starting tonight at 9pm against Kinasabah. We will be playing 3 games a weekend until the final weekend where it will be single game elimination for the playoffs (so we will play at least 9 games and possibly 12 at the most). The league is called the NBL (National Basketball League) and I am playing for the Bintulu Rainbows. There are only 4 teams in this month long league so we will get to play each one 3-4 times. This is the only professional league that Malaysia has so it's a big deal but only lasts a month or two at times (they are really trying to make basketball bigger here in this country but it takes time). There has already been a lot of media and newspaper attention about the games this weekend and they are expecting sold out crowds, should be fun!! My team is pretty young for the most part and the club is expecting this season to be a rebuilding one, but we are going to fight to win every game possible. All the guys are really cool and most of them speak fairly good english with the exception of a few that don't speak any and a few that speak it really well. All the people here in general speak at least a little bit of English, which once again makes me feel dumb because I ONLY speak English fluently (and a little bit of Spanish, but nothing to brag about)... It reminds me of when I was visiting Luxembourg where they spoke around 4 languages. I feel like most Americans are soooo dependant on other cultures being able to speak our language, where WE never learn other languages growing up (except maybe 1 year in middle school and 1-2 years in high school, but who ever "really" remembers that stuff and trys to become fluent in it).

So since I love to eat I gotta talk about the food!! It's basically AMAZING hahaha. Not only is it super cheap (at least to me cuz the US dollar exchange rate is so good, although the club is paying for my meals so its not like i gotta worry about spending money anyway) but it's really authentic and de-lish :) . I've already had numerous dishes and have tried some new things as well, but coming from Seattle where there is already such a big Asian cultural background and plenty of Chinese food to go around I pretty much am used to it. Still though, nothing like the "real deal"!

This month is really going to fly by with practices and/or games basically everyday, but I think it will be a lot of fun and I'll have many memories from my time here. If all goes good then maybe I'll be back next season, you never know. Our other import player is Chris Keate and he's played in this league tournament 3 times already. He's originally from Camaroon, Africa and is a really chill cool guy but a great basketball player and has won the MVP 2 out of the 3 times he's played, so he'll be a very valuable asset to us winning. It'll be nice to have him here since he's been around for a while and knows the routine with things.

The weather has been hot for the most part, and pretty humid too. It reminds me a lot of Florida summers. It rains about twice a day, but only for around 15minutes then it's done and it's all dry after about another 30minutes. The scenery of what I've seen so far is definitely tropical, but where I am in East Malaysia is definitely more rural than other regions. So more Jungle-ish, but still really nice and green. The downfall to the hot weather is practicing in it!!! The gym has no A/C and because of that it gets pretty damn hot at times hahaha. By the end of our 2 hour practices I am absolutely drenched and can just wring out my shirt and shorts into a puddle of sweat hahaha! It's crazy but I'm going to have to deal with it because that's just the way it is out here. Chris has already told me that ball and court during the games can get pretty slippery and to not get mad/upset if when i go to shoot that the ball just slips out of my hands hahah! Should be an experience once again to say the least, but that's what I'm here for and I'm looking forward to it!!

We will be traveling each week which is pretty cool, so that way I'll be able to see different areas of Malaysia. This past week and of course this weekend we are in Bintulu (east Malaysia) but on Wednesday the 14th we fly to Kota Kinabalu and are there until the 20th where we then fly to Kuala Lumpor (which is the main city of Malaysia). Basically we are going to play a weekend of games in each teams city so that each team has a fair ammount of "home" games.

As for today, we had a AM shoot around and now I'm just chilling in our hotel room. We have a pre-game dinner and meeting in a couple hours then we'll head over to the gym for the tournaments opening ceremony. Our game isn't until 9pm though!!! Which is really late for a game but hopefully by then the heat will have worn off a little bit. I will be updating the blog over the month with game scores from each weekend.

Here is the leagues website if you want to check it out (it is mostly in chinese but you can get it translated by Google translation if you want to)

I hope this reaches everyone in good spirits and all is well back home. I miss everyone a ton! Can't wait to be home in December already hahaha!

Until tomorrow...
"Make it Happen"