Friday, 29 April 2011

Another year has come and gone...

Every time I turn around another 2 weeks has gone by in a blink of an eye! So here I am once again sitting in my room on my bed listening to Coldplay trying to re-cap all the FUN STUFF that's been happening out here in beautiful Bunbury!!

Since my last post we've played another 3 games. Unlucky for us we weren't able to win any of the 3. So that takes our record to 0-9 thus far this season. It's been frustrating at times for sure, but that's the whole challenge of playing this game. You're not always going to be on a championship caliber team, so how are you going to not only make yourself BUT also those around you better players throughout the season??? It's a tough task to take on, but you've got to stick with it and just believe in eachother and the system put in place by the coaching staff. We will get the wins rolling in eventually, there's no doubt about that.

Two Saturday's ago we played against East Perth and my good mate Colin Matteson(from Seattle). They are a tough team and had a couple wins already under their belt but we knew we could beat em'. The game was close from the get go although we never had the lead. Down 5 points at half time we knew we were in good position to make a run for the win. They pulled their lead out to 16 or so points through the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarter, but we made a great run and got the deficit down to 3 points with 5 minutes left in the game!!! (this situation has happened too often haha). At this point in the game it was either WE pull together and make a run to win the game or they make a run to pull the lead away and take the win. Unfortunate for us they decided to make the run and ended up winning by 15points, although it was a much closer than what the final score showed. It was another loss for us, but at the same time it was a positive game because we played so well together and once again had a "chance" to win it. That's what it's all about right now for us, putting ourselves in a position to win. I played well and had 21pts and 11rebs.

I ended up staying in Perth that night with Colin and some of his teammates. It was a good time as we ended up going out to a bar/night club. It was one of the few times I've gotten to hangout with Colin even though we're only 2 hours away from eachother.

Me, Colin, some random friends of his, Big Tommy J

The 2nd game we had over the past 3 weeks was the Thursday before Easter Sunday. It was a home game against the Mandurah Magic, the team in 13th place right ahead of us with a record of 1-6. Definitely a BEATABLE team, especially with one of my good friends Casey (American Import) out with an injury. If there was any game thus far for us to be favored in, it was this one!! Not only was this game against a team that had been struggling as we were but it was also a "rival" team since they are only 40 minutes north of us and the closest team to Bunbury. So that also added to the "drama" of the game as well. Besides all that, our coach absolutely hates Mandurah Magic and hates nothing more than to lose to them. SOOOO with all that said you'd figure we'd be ready to play AT HOME against these guys and get our first win!! Not only did we know this was a big game for us but also the fans that came and packed out our gym!! The perfect scene was set for us to bring down the house!! WELL let's just say it never happened.... We started the game ok, and were tied by the end of the 1st quarter. By halftime I think we were down 8 points or so, so not bad by any means but we knew we were playing bad basketball. Let's just skip to the end because what happened in the 2nd half was just crap. We ended up never having a shot at winning and lost by 16 points...It was a huge dissapoinment for everyone, us, the fans, the sponsors, the management/committee. It was really frustrating because over the past 4 games we'd been playing 100% better with each game. So you would think that that would carry over into a game that was the MOST winnable game so far this season... But it didn't happen... It was a frustrating game for me as well as I was 4-10 from the field (just didn't get enough touches) and finished with 11pts and 10rebs.

Lastly we played this past Saturday night against another country team in Kalgoorlie (about an 11hr drive east into the desert) called the Goldsfield Giants. We were lucky enough to get to fly this year rather than drive haha. So we traveled to Perth, boarded our plane and 1hr later we were there! The Giants are a top 4 team and had won the last 5 of 6 games, so they were playing well to say the least. I guess they had put into their programs the fact that out of the last 17 games we've only beaten them once...That wasn't a statistic that I neccessarily wanted to hear before the game haha. Kal is another country team that usually packs their gym and get a little bit roudy against the opponents. It's a gold mining town with nothing but hotels, bars and brothels. So partying is pretty much the main and only thing to do there. So we knew the enviroment would most likely be a harsh one to play in. The game started off in our favor as we took a quick lead, shooting the ball very well. By halftime we were down 14 points or so but still confident this was our game. We came out strong in the 3rd quarter and actually took the lead by about 10 points! The 4th quarter was a back-and-forth battle where we were leading by 1 point with 5 minutes to go. We came out of a timeout and didn't score 3-4 possessions in a row where they did, that all of a sudden put us down 8 or so points. We were never able to get ahead again and ended up losing by 10points 92-82. I finished with 15pts and 14rebs. It was a hard fought battle that I think they didn't expect from us. Everybody played hard and it would've been great to get that win, especially up there in Kal, but we'll have to re-group for next weekend because we have a double header.

After the game the whole team decided to hit the town for a few hours since this was our last true "road trip" as a team. It was a fun time to get out with all the boys and relax a little bit after a tough fought game. We also kicked it with the other team and they were some really cool guys as well, it was a fun night.

Nick's Mom and step Dad were in town for about 5 days right around Easter time so we were able to do some fun things with them while they were here. We headed down to Margaret River (2 hrs South) one day to do some sight seeing and actually explore a cave or two! Margaret River is a big time tourist spot and has some of the best beaches and surfing in Australia. In fact just 2-3 weeks ago Kelly Slater was down there for a competition, so that's pretty cool. What most people do when going to M.R. is take a "tour bus" from Bunbury down. They do this because there's about 7-10 wineries/breweries along the way, so as they travel down the bus will stop at each one allowing everyone to drink up lol. Then when you get to M.R. you're free to roam the shops, have lunch, see the sights. I think the ideal plan would be to go down one day, stay the night, then do more looking around the next day. We didn't even get to see the beaches, which is what everyone says is the best part! So there will definitely be another trip down South at some point, maybe with the host family next time :)

We didn't exactly have all the time in the world that day so we went down and made it to one of the caves to explore then went and had lunch then we (me and Lavesa) had to take off back to Bunbury as Nick and his parents went further south to Augusta to do more sight seeing. Being down in the cave was probably one of the coolest things I'd ever seen/experienced. It was amazing to see how things had developed over hundreds of years under the ground in complete darkness. There were parts of the trail where we basically had to kneel and slide along for 15 or so yards, it was crazy! We were supplied with some goofy looking helmets and a mini flashlight and were told NOT to touch anything haha. It was a ton of fun and I know I probably wouldn't of ever experienced anything like it if it wasn't for me being here in Bunbury! Definitely blessed and very thankful.

Nick, his mom, his step dad Tom, Lavesa and me

The cave was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen!

After our game on last Thursday we had a week off until our next practice which was last night. So with so much time off one of my teammates Jason Smith asked me and Nick if we'd be interested in going fishin'. We of course were more than excited to jump on board for that plan! Jason is a big time fisher, scuba diver, off-roader, camper, pretty much anything to do with nature and being outdoors he's all about it! So this fishing we were to be doing isn't just off a dock or bridge, this was out in the ocean, like miles and miles out in the ocean hahaha. I'd never done anything like that before so I was anxious to see what it's all about, I was mostly worried about getting sea sick haha. We woke up at 5:45am to get out on the water early and let me tell you, I was already tired! We ended up out on the water until 3pm!!! It was a LONGGGGGG day, but a lot of fun even though there weren't many fish being caught haha. We ended up catching 4 fish, 1 of which was used for bait, 2 of the others we threw back and 1 that we kept. I never got too sea sick but it was definitely tough to stand up at times without getting a little bit lightheaded.

The coolest part of the day was when we were headed back and entering the harbor. We ran into like 3 dolphins that came up next to the boat. So we stopped for a few minutes and actually fed them some of the bait we had. It was a really cool experience and I never realized how big dolphins actually are! Jason was feeding them hand and they were so gentile to take the food from him, it was wild.

Before I wrap this post up I wanted to post a picture from an article in the South West Magazine that was written about me recently. I was interviewed about being a professional basketball player and my experiences traveling the world doing what I love to do. They also tied in the fact that I'm a Christian believer and associated wit AIA (athletes in action, a christian based organization). It was fun getting to share how believing in my faith has helped me both on and off the court, and that my success isn't neccessarily just from hitting the gym and getting shots up. It's from God! It was a fun thing to be a part of and something I'll never forget.

I just recently turned 28 years old on April 26th and let me just say its been a QUICK year! I have pretty much been on the road except for 4 months out of the year playing ball and I can't believe just how quick time has come and gone. I've had a blast along the whole way, meeting new people, traveling to new places and experiencing new cultures! I'd like to thank my moms and pops for having me and supporting me through all these 28 years! Much love to my whole fam :). Most of all I have to thank God for being with me the whole way, through the ups and the downs, the goods and the bads. It's been quite the rollercoaster so far and I'm looking forward to the rest of the ride :)

That's about it for now. We have a double header this weekend and are looking forward to big things! Life is still rolling right along as usual. Big shout out to my cousin Betsy for recently getting married! My family is loving the new home! All is good! I hope everyone is doing well and life is treating them fair :) God Bless!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Almost 28 years old.....

Well it's been just about two weeks since my last post and we've had 4 games since then so bare with me as I catch you guys up on hoops!

Our third game was up in Geraldton against the Bucs, which is another country team, except they are 4 hours NORTH of Perth and we are 2 hours SOUTH of Perth haha. So we knew it was going to be a longgggggggggggg road trip, but at least we had a 52 passenger travel bus to spread out and get some rest on the way up. The whole trip took about 7 hours and we got in around noon time. We went to our hotel/condo to set up shop and chillax for a little while before hitting the gym. The Bucs were a team that had been struggling as well and they weren't at full strength quite yet, BUT not on that night... They had all their guys on the court and healthy and they are tough when at full strength. We ended up losing the game and having our worst game of the season, losing by 33points. I had an off night shooting and finished with 13points and 11rebounds.

Our next game was against the Willeton Tigers at home in Bunbury. This was last years Championship club. They also at the moment like most teams were not at full strength and had only won 2 games, that were both close. It was by far the most physical game so far and by the end I was absolutely beat up haha. We dug ourselves a hole and got down 28 points by halftime hahaha. BUT with 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter we were within 4 points and the crowd was going nuts. I missed some CRUCIAL free throws down the stretch and we never got over that hump to get the win and lost by 11 points or so. I finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds, definitely not my best game but still somehow won MVP honors for the game and another $50 certificate to the Eaton Tavern.

That next day we had to travel up to Perth to play the Perry Lake Hawks. They were another team that had only won 2-3 games and was a VERY beatable team. Just from the looks of them as a team you would look at us and say "slammers should win this one", but just as in any sport you can't judge by looks. We started off great and it was tied at the end of the 1st quarter. Then we had a "brain fart" that we've often had and they outscored us 34-14 in the 2nd and we were down 20pts and halftime once again... We fought back in the 2nd half at times but still finished losing by 19points. It was a tough loss as that team wasn't super tall, talented, big or anything special but they played hard and together and that does the job a lot of the time. I played better and finished with 15points and 7 rebounds.

Just last night we had another home game against the Perth Redbacks who as of last night were in 2nd place at 4-1. A tough team that has some tough local NBL (national basketball league, top league) guys, who are basically just like import American players because they are that good as locals. We came out tough and ready to play from the get go and were down 4 or 5 points at halftime, right where we wanted to be. The second half was hard fought and the lead was back and forth at times, with them never leading by more that 11pts. We got it down to 4 or so points in the last 5 minutes as we usually do, but we once again couldn't pull it out in the end and lost by 11 or so points. It was frustrating because we were playing well and scoring when needed but we just couldn't get stops at the other end to take the lead in crunch time. We are almost there as a team and we can all taste our first win coming soon, we just have to stick together and continue to get better each day. I played well and finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists. It was enough to get me the MVP of the game honors again and yet my 3rd $50 Eaton Tavern certificate! I'm thinking I'll just take the whole team out to eat one night and use the money then, although out here in Australia $150 doesn't really go that far in a restaurant, especially for 10-11 big guys hahaha!

So after those 6 games up to this point we are 0-6 and in last place on the ladder. Fortunately for us if we can get just 2-3 wins over the next few weeks that will take us up to around 9th or 10th place. There are still about 3-4 teams who have only won 2 or so games, so we are still in the hunt!

We actually have another game tonight in Perth against the East Perth Eagles and my good buddy from Seattle Colin Matteson. He's the same friend that played up in Darwin with me as well. It's been awesome to have someone I know in the same league over the past 7 months, it really helps to talk about home and friends and family when you're feeling home sick. We are looking for a big win tonight as they are only 2-5 and have lost 3-4 straight games! This would be an ideal time to start off the "Win Train"!!! CHOOO CHOOOO!

Well enough about basketball hahaha! Everything outside of hoops has been great! The weather is absolutely amazing. It's been beautiful during the days, we're still getting to the beach about 3-4 days a week to soak in some rays :). And at night it's actually starting to get chilly, which is perfect!! I've been in my hoodie and sweats a few times now and it's awesome. It's kind of like a perfect Seattle summer honestly, hot and nice during the day and cooler at night. And this is our WINTER out here hahahaha! I really couldn't be in a better place to play ball. Definitely blessed.

The school clinics have been put on pause for the next 2-3 weeks because of the break, so that just means that there's more free time for us to hit the gym and beach :) which is fine by us of course. I am currently looking to get a job here shortly and it's pretty much up to me where I want to work. My work visa runs until around June 20th or so, so that leaves me about roughly 2 months to have a job (which is nothing) and I'm cool with that. I think I'm going to look into working at this sports store on the main strip downtown called Sports First, where my teammate Cory works right now. It'd be easy selling sports apparell and what not, definitely stuff i've done before.

Last weekend when we played up in Perth we (Nick, Lavesa and myself) ended up staying that Saturday night at my buddy Ben Beran's place. Nick was entered into a dunk contest for the league on Sunday at the Perth Wildcat's game (top league team) and we were there to support him and watch the game. It was awesome first of all because my really good buddy and AIA alum Jason Faulknor was in town on his way home from Taiwan!! I hadn't seen that guy since our last AIA tour in 07' but we've kept in really good contact while we're both overseas and it was great to finally get to catch up! He'll be in Seattle for our mutual friend Austin Yuen's wedding August 7th so I'm hoping to be home for that, but depending on how far our playoff run goes out here I may miss that... That's the business though... It was another great weekend to see Ben and Jason and a few other buddies in Perth. It always makes me feel like I'm not that far from home when I have so many good friends here!

Sunday morning Ben and I went to church early at Lakeside (the church that sponsors his team the Lakeside Lightning). I really enjoy spending time with Ben because he is really deep in his faith and has a good understanding of the Bible. He's always a good person I can go to to ask questions about my faith and also for advice on how to improve my relationship with God. He has challenged me to get into the Bible more recently and to really take notes on what I'm reading so that things will stick with me. I've started with the Gospels, just reading one chapter a day and things are going well. I'm feeling like the more I get into the word each day the better day I have and more focused I am as well. It's always a never ending walk with faith but it's about growing along the way and not being content with where you're at. I try to give thanks for everything in my life and tend to forget quickly how blessed we all are. Life can be taken away at a blink of an eye.

After Church we headed to the stadium for the game. We had to be there early as the 1st round of the Dunk contest was prior to the game even starting. There were 5 guys from different teams in the league including Nick. He ended up easily being one of the two finalists pretty easy. He then continued to totally dominate the championship round and easily took home 1st place and a reward of $1,000 of And 1 hoop gear (which has yet to come...). The dude can flat out fly and didn't even really get to show what he can do, but it was a fun time as the finals was at the end of the 1st quarter and the house was packed out!

My family back home was moving out of our house and into the new one in Lynnwood this weekend!!! I can't believe it's actually happening after 16 years... That was our 2nd house that we'd lived in since I was born and most of my memories are from that house. I am excited for a new change though, and my parents both deserve a new place. They have both worked hard to have a nice brand new place to start another chapter of their life in, I just can't wait to get home and check it out for myself!

My Bday is coming up on April 26th and it's crazy how time is flying by. I really can't believe it's already been another year! I swear time goes faster the older you get hahah. I'm going to be 28, but I still feel 21 haha! Definitely in my prime BABYYYYY!! I gotta say it's been a great year though. I've spent time in England, Malaysia, Darwin and now Bunbury all over this past year and it's been because of basketball. I've met and am dating an amazing girl that I love and am SOOO thankful for! My family and friends are always supportive and loving. My faith has grown and continues to grow. God has really shown me that the more you pursue him and let him guide your life, that he takes care of you and puts you in the right situation at the right time. They say timing is everything, I think I agree with that one...

Well I think that's about it for now. We have our game tonight and are getting ready to leave here soon. I'm going to be staying up in Perth for the night with my buddy Colin Matteson, so that should be fun times! I hope all is well with everyone back home. I love and miss you all! Thanks so much for following my blog and taking the time to share my experiences with me. Life is good, but God is great.

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"