Monday, September 26, 2016

That's Gold!

Hello guys and gals, welcome back to Overseas With A Carry On! How is everything on your end? The majority of you are probably over the shock that the summer is over and school is in full swing. Some are continuing to plug away at your job or who knows, maybe you're just getting back from a well deserved vacation. Over here, I'm finally settled in and ready for the season to kick off. Speaking of settling in, this year was most definitely the easiest transition from unpacking duffel bags to looking like I belonged in my apartment...

(And yes, we are all duffel bag boys. I don't know a fellow basketball player that travels with suitcases. It's just the code we live by. Unless one is travelling with his spouse and/or children - that is the way the committee will permit such actions.)

...Usually when I arrive to a new team, we get straight to practice. Us imports are the last to arrive so we're technically behind the local teammates who have been around throughout the summer months training. In addition to jet lag, you haven't a clue where anything in the town is, you're adjusting to a new schedule and worst of all, your refrigerator is empty. There's a simple way to combat all of this and I'm going to break it down for you in a simple 2 step process:

Step 1: Re-sign to a team that you've previously played for.
3 years ago when I initially debuted this blog, I was playing in Evreux, France. It was a great learning experience for me both on and off the court. It had always been a dream of mine to play in France, especially after vacationing to Paris the year before (being bilingual also helped). The following year I made the move to Japan and suited up for Hamamatsu Phoenix. That season, we won the league championship. The town was and still is a small rural city so finding your way around was pretty easy. Moral of the story: Go to a place you're familiar with so there's no learning curve and it's just like walking down memory lane.

Step 2: Invest

Invest in yourself! I literally signed up and purchased my Costco membership the day before departing for Japan. As mentioned in step 1, being familiar and having prior knowledge that a Costco Wholesale store was only roughly 50 minutes away, I paid the cost to be a boss. With this little guy in hand, I was fortunate enough to make the drive the very next day and stock up on a bunch of groceries and necessities. Some items I'll have to buy over and over again and some, I'll never have to spend another yen on. 

I know some of my readers are still flabbergasted that Costco exists in Japan and are wondering if it's the same as it is in North is! The huge inventory, big bulk packaging, exact same layout, etc. The items are clearly tailored to the local taste so, certain items that you are used to seeing back state-side/province-side will not be on hand. But in a land far far away from home, beggars can't be choosers. The only thing that could possibly beat having a Costco is having a military base nearby. Shopping in there literally makes you feel as if you've teleported back home! Here's a list of the US military presence in Japan.

And that's how you get over the hump of getting accustom to your new surroundings; make them your old ones. I've got the same jersey number, same apartment, same parking spot - I didn't even have ask for the wifi password, my devices connected automatically...

Onto more serious business, like the basketball in Japan. I enjoy it. The local talent continues to rise and are relied upon heavily to help a team win. Why is that you ask? Because over the last few years, there have been a number of changes to the rules of how many foreigners a team can have and how many can be on the court at the same time. Stick with me here...

This year in the new B. League (Japan Basketball recently combined both the professional BJ League and  the company sponsored NBL into one body), each team may have up to 3 foreign born players. In most instances these are Americans, in my case, a Canadian or Nigerian or whatever nation you want to peg me to. For 2 quarters of play, you're allowed 1 foreigner on the court at a time and for the other 2 quarters, you're allowed 2.

If you have a naturalized Japanese player, such as someone who is a foreign born player but has lived in the country for a number of years or married a local and has received a Japanese passport/citizenship, he still counts as a foreigner BUT is allowed to play as a "local" when his team is playing 1 legitimatel import. So in other words, his team could essentially play 2 foreign born players the entire game. If I recall from my business undergrad at Louisiana Tech, we call that a competitive advantage.

Oh yeah, this year teams must announce prior to each game which particular quarters it plans to use 1 import and which ones you plan to use 2. Will it be 2-1-2-1, 1-2-1-2, 2-1-1-2? You can come up with whichever pattern you like but this has to be declared and cannot change once it is set. It can though be changed from game to game. Weird stuff!

Last year things weren't so messy - each team had a limit of 3 imported foreigners. You were allowed to have 2 of them on the court at any time. As far as naturalized players went, I believe (don't quote me) they still counted as a full import. You could not have 3 foreign born players on the court under any circumstance. In the NBL is where I believe that player would not count as foreigner. I didn't compete in that league so my word is not gospel, just an educated assumption.

Back to my first year in Japan, each team was allowed 4 imported players but the playing time split was altogether different. The 1st/3rd quarters allowed 2 on the court and the 2nd/4th allowed 3. As you can see, it can be a bit difficult to predict match ups and thus affects scouting, recruiting and so on. A few years prior to that, the league allowed each team to have 5 imports! Over the years, the numbers have dwindled and jobs have become more scarce. I think I speak for the majority of my counterparts when I say it's a blessing to know you are employed come the beginning of September.

Over the years, we've all heard and seen a lot of transitions and changes in food and society wanting becoming as healthy as we can be. First it was becoming a vegetarian (yeah right), then some upped the ante by becoming vegans, others went gluten free and some opted for the "Paleo" diet...

I've had a roller coaster ride trying to balance being healthy, not depriving myself of fuel, being a foodie and dealing with the local menu. On the following entry I'll dive a bit into some changes I've made to my personal diet. Until the next entry, thank you all for reading. 

If you enjoy what the content, please hit the follow button, drop a comment, share it socially, etc! I'd love to interact with some of my readers and hopefully answer questions you all may have. Thanks for reading and stay blessed. 


Special shoutouts go to my trainer back in Toronto, Vlad & Co. at +Real Basketball Training Inc.! He trains the top talent in the city at all levels from youth to such pros as Anthony Bennet, Brady Heslip and  Dwight Powell to name a few. You can check him out at his website 

P.S. We lost 3 greats over the past few months to retirement - thank you to the Black Mamba, the Big Fundamental & the Big Ticket on illustrious careers.

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