Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Settling right in...

It's been about 2 weeks since my last post and I must say that quite a bit has been going on. So much stuff in fact that I lose track of how much time it's been in-between blogs, then I end up forgetting some funny things that have happened to share with ya'll. From training 2-3 days a week to school sessions 2-3 days a week to games now every weekend (home and away) there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of time to sit down and write, BUT I'm going to try my best to get a new post out every 2 weeks or so. Just a little side note as well, it's almost been 2 months already since I left on Feb 8th... Absolutely crazy how the time has been flying by!

I'll start off with bball news since that's what I'm here for haha!

On March 18th we had our first game of the season against the Rockingham Flames on the road. We had to travel to Perth to play because their gym wasn't ready to play in quite yet and that wasn't really a problem since the gym in Perth was much nicer than their's. BUT we ended up running into traffic on the way and that made the trip 3 1/2hrs rather than the usual 2hrs. So because of that the game started about 20 mins late, not a great start to the night. We only had 8 guys suited up that night as 4 of our players had something going on (like work or were hurt with an injury) that prevented them from playing. So we weren't at full strength at all but knew that we could still win this game. Nick our other import had just shown up a couple days prior and wasn't cleared from Basketball Australia yet to play, so that hurt us as well. The game was tight from the get go and we were down 8pts at halftime. We slowly started to lose momentum at the end of the 3rd quarter and even though we pulled to within 4 pts they ended up pulling away for a 19 point victory. We just didn't have enough legs to keep up for the whole 48 minutes. It was a tough loss when we know we are definitely beating that team at full strength. It would've been nice to get a win right off the bat to start the season, but we'll just keep gelling and working hard. I personally played well and had 23pts and 11rebs, but I had to play a blistering 47 minutes and was completely gassed after the game! When our full team is back in effect I won't have to play hopefully more than 40 minutes, anything more can be killer on your body (especially on double header weekends).

Here's a pic from the Rockingham game:

This past Saturday we had our first home game of the season against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns. They have an AIA import by the name of Dean Hadley. I'd never met him until I got out here (in Perth at the Blitz weekend of games) but he's a really cool dude and another guy to touch base with over the season and chop it up about life and the Christian faith/walk. I also got to talk with their coach (Ash) after the game, he's a guy that I was in contact with over emails during the whole recruiting process and also a Christian guy. Things never worked out because it was right when I was signing with the Slammers, but he was always a really nice guy to talk to and showed interest in me playing for them. This game we had almost our full squad together (just missing one kid that was in the States), finally! Our home venue is pretty sweet and I bet one of the better ones in the league. One of Russell's older girls that is part of the acrobatic dance group in town had a performance at halftime which was crazy. The flips, spins and twists that they were doing were pretty insane, but the crowd loved the entertainment! The gym was pretty packed with around 450 people and a ton of the kids from the schools showed up too, so that was fun. It was the best crowd they've had in a while and we're hoping they continue to support. The game was close from the get go and we were down 5pts after the first quarter. We had only had a week or 2 of trainings together to try and gel with Nick now playing so we were working things out on the court as we went. At halftime we were down 11pts I think but the game was always tight. We got the lead down to 1pt in the end of the 3rd quarter and the crowd was starting to go nuts!! They had a few runs in the 4th quarter where we didn't answer with a score and next thing you know they ended up winning by 13pts. It was a great game for us though and I think the fans and sponsors had a great time. We executed our game plan pretty well and did the things we wanted to but they shot the ball great and that was pretty much the deciding factor. I played well and had 24pts, 12rebs and 4 assists. That earned me MVP honors for the game and a $50gift card to the Eaton Tavern (which I heard has great food! So you know I'm pumped for that lol). One thing that is different here than anywhere I've played before is after each game both teams and all the sponsors get together in one of the meeting rooms for food and drinks to give out awards and also "shoot the breeze" with eachother. It's a way to mingle with guys from the opposing team and to get to know the sponors as well. It's a pretty cool deal.

Here's some pics from our local newspaper before our home opener against Kalamunda:

Here's our commercial for the first game as well, enjoy!
video

Now that the bball is all caught up with I'll move on to other things...

Last Friday was my last school session at Cowanarup Primary School, which is about an hr. South of Bunbury. It's an extremely small country town and there's only 220 kids in the school, but they are awesome. SOOOOO right out of the gates at the very first session (4 weeks ago) I was there each class that I had one after another during the course of the day asked me the usual question, "can you dunk?" and I answer with a "yes I can" then they proceed with "Can you do it now?". So to avoid having to do a gazillion dunks over the next 4 weeks I told each class that I would do a dunk on the last day! It was a brilliant idea :), especially if they were to forget over time hahaha, BUT they didn't. SOOOO of course as soon as I step on campus last Friday the kids are all going nuts about this dunk haha. I guess the principal even put it in the school paper. So as the day went on I decided instead of doing a dunk per class that I would just do one at the end of the day before I leave while all the kids are outside eating their lunch (this would save more energy for me too lol, I'm getting old now :) ). So at 1:10pm the bell rang and all 200 kids ran out to the court to take a seat enjoy their lunch and also "the dunk" that they'd been waiting for. It was a ton of fun getting them all pumped up and cheering before I threw one down to a bunch of ohhhhhhh's and ahhhhhhhh's followed by some clapping. The kids enjoyed it and the teachers had some fun too. It was a great way to end a good 4 week session!

This past Sunday I decided to check out a local Christian church and wait to check out the new Cathedral at a later date. I did some research online and came across Grace Christian Church and it looked like a young/fun place to go so I headed there. To my luck that weekend there was a men's retreat going on in Busselton (40mins south) and for the most part the church was full of women hahaha. Talk about feeling a littttttle bit out of place haha, but it was cool and the service was great. It's definitely a young church with some good worship music and solid leadership. The woman who was speaking that day focused on this passage from Mark 4:13-20 and she summorized the passage like this, "Hear the word, believe the word, act on the word, bear great fruit". It's quite the passage to think on because how many of us hear something but never quite believe it. Or even if we do believe it how many of us actually act on it to see if what will come from our good actions will be fruitful? It definitely struck home for me personally as there are always day to day challenges where I fall short by not acting on my beliefs. Knowing what's right but almost being to lazy (faith wise) to act on it. God wants us to not only pursue his word but also act it out and share it with others. Bear great fruit. I enjoyed the service and will most likely return there again next week although I do want to check some other places out just to see what's out there.

After church finished I decided to drive up to Mandurah to meet up with Big Ben to watch Casey Crevelone and the Magic play against the Willeton Tigers (who we have on the 7th or 8th). I figured I'd go up there to watch the game and also hang out for the night, maybe even stay over. It was a great game and the Tigers ended up winning in the end. Casey played really well and was upset they didn't get the W. It was nice to get to scout both teams for our future match ups!

After the game we decided to grab some meat and condiments from the store for a "barby" aka barbeque at Casey's teammates place (which was RIGHT on the beach!). Casey's GF (Jocelyn) just got out to Mandurah a few weeks ago and is going to be staying the whole season or as long as her work visa allows, so she is actually living at that house with Casey's mate and his wife. It's a pretty sweet situation for Casey to have someone out here to experience everything with him and grow together. It's probably THE BEST situation for a professional basketball player to have while being overseas if they are in a serious relationship (which a lot of guys aren't or don't want to be). Unfortunately it doesn't always work out for someone to just drop everything they are doing in their life in the States to come out and be with you while you continue to live your dream in whatever country your contract is in. Would I love to have my special someone with me? YES. Is it going to happen for me anytime soon? Nah :( . But that's just another one of the many sacrifices you get for playing ball overseas and being away from everyone you love...

Sorry about that I just went off track there a little bit haha!

ANYWAYS, we ended up going for a quick swim before then endulging on our feast of a barby. It was a lot of fun to meet some new people and chat it up over some good food. After that the three of us went back to Casey's host families place for the night. We watched a couple interesting documentary type movies called "Life" (similar to the series on the National Geographic channel) about animals, mammals, insects, bugs, etc. I gotta say, on the projection screen it was pretty amazing stuff! It was great as always to be able to catch up with some AIA guys, especially Ben and Casey as I've grown really close to those guys! I can't wait for our next weekend of fun.

As far as things back home go... The Smith fam has finally found a house and all is official! It's a beautiful house up in the Alderwood area, just minutes from the mall. It's on a quiet cultisack in a nice neighborhood. My mom was extactic about the whole deal and I think a huge weight was lifted off both her and my dad's shoulders (as the moving out date was closing in). I can't wait to come home to a new crib! Big shout out to my sister for finding the listing the day it opened!!

I think that's it for now. Life is really moving pretty fast especially since the season has started up. We play every weekend which is nice and time starts to fly by. Our next game is Saturday up in Geraldton against the Bucaneers which is another country team up north about 7 hours from us. So it will be a long bus ride, but a fun one! I've heard some stories from past seasons and it sounds like good times. Pictures to come soon! We're still looking for our first win and I think we can get it this time! Prayers would be greatly appreciated!

I hope everyone is loving life and enjoying every minute of it! I miss everyone a ton and think about home all the time. It's a crazy world but it's meant to be that way, otherwise it wouldn't be life. Thanks to everyone for following my blog, I enjoy being able to share these amazing experiences with all of you. Prayers, Blessings and much Love!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

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