Where do I begin? This week was full of chaos and stress with decisions needing to be made within hours. With 3 regular season games remaining, it became apparent that our team was going to miss the final playoff spot. That’s when the madness began. All of a sudden Charlee, Lizanne and I became hot commodities in the European basketball market. With teams getting ready for playoffs, the business side of basketball began to show its ugly head. Oddly enough the 3 of us share the same agent and I can tell you she was put to work!
With two Finnish teams fighting for her to be on their roster, Liz made the decision to accept an offer from Catz. They currently sit in second place and will likely be playing for the Finnish league Championship. Catz paid HoNsU a nice chunk of change and Liz’s release request was granted. The two clubs wasted no time. After a goodbye bash that evening, Lizanne packed her bags and was on the first bus to Lappeenranta the next day. It was a sad farewell as the three of us had become very close over the past four and a half months.
Next it was Charlee’s turn. Since our team has nothing to play for now (except pride), HoNsU asked Charlee if she would play for the 3rd division team and help them to qualify for 2nd division next season. With more money and bonuses on the table, Charlee accepted the offer and was released from our 1st division team. As an affiliate of our club, Charlee won’t have to move and will be here in Jyväskylä for another month and a half.
That left me. Having already released Liz and Charlee, HoNsU refused to grant me a release to play on another team. This obviously upset me. Not only did they allow Liz and Charlee to go (our primary ball-handlers), I was left as the only foreigner on our very young and inexperienced team. I wasn’t happy, especially because our last 3 games will see us facing playoff teams. Even with my agent battling the front office, HoNsU stood their ground and said I couldn’t go anywhere until I had played in our last game on March 9th. I have to be extremely mentally tough in these next games – which will be a challenge itself. After mulling offers from Sweden to Jordan I told my agent I'd rather go home and see my family and friends on March 10th than play somewhere where the situation wasn't known.
That was short lived, as literally 10 minutes before practice began that evening my agent called to inform me that one of the teams I had turned down wanted to know what it was going to take for me to play for them. Since the deadline to finalize rosters for playoffs was midnight that evening, I told her if they agreed to my specific demands I would sign a contract and join them for playoffs. Practice came and went with the window to midnight getting smaller and smaller.
Assuming they didn’t agree to my requests, I was surprised to receive a phone call at 11pm that evening from the Swedish coach. He gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse and the rest is history. I accepted it and will be traveling to Sweden March 10th to join the Sundsvall Saints in Sundsvall, Sweden. It’s quite the situation. Sundsvall is currently 3-17, sitting last place in the 1st division. When I join the team they will have completed all their regular season games, and will likely be sitting in the same spot. The games I’ll be playing in are for the team to stay in the 1st division. It’s my understanding that the bottom 2 teams in the 1st division and top 2 teams in the 2nd division have to play some sort of playoff series to see who goes to which division next year. Obviously Sundsvall is hoping that I can help them stay in the 1st division. I’ll try my best!
Interestingly enough, Brandi Davis (who played at Oregon and then for the LA Sparks of the WNBA) had been with Sundsvall since the beginning of the season. However, she hadn’t played the last 2 months due to a stress fracture in her leg. They finally sent her home last week to rehab. Additionally, one of the other Americans was recently sent home for breaking team rules. It’s my understanding that it will be me and one other American (who coincidently played in Finland last season) as the only foreigners on the team. My contract is fully guaranteed, so no matter how long I’m in Sweden (2 weeks minimum, 4 weeks maximum) I will be paid the full amount we agreed on. Here’s to another adventure and my 23rd birthday in Sweden…
Sidenote: Congrats to my bro and his team (UBC) who qualified for Nationals!