Ideally, I would have really liked to stay in Australia and live here for the year, but, after a lifetime of trying, I've learned you can't always go where you aren't wanted. Slovakia should be cool though and it will certainly be different from anywhere I have lived before. But that's not for a while, so we can table that topic for now.
Ever seen those clever Southwest airlines commercials featuring various terrifyingly awkward scenarios wherein someone ultimately ends up desperate to "get away" quickly? I actually quite enjoyed those until I found myself living in one this weekend and now they just seem insensitive. After having a bye last weekend, we played this Friday at home against Stirling. They ran a box and 1 throughout the game on me and intentionally fouled me quite hard twice-- safe to say they were keen to making life difficult for me. I reckon it worked a bit, but we still scored 51 points in the first half, so it wasn't a real game changer. I was involved in a few game changing moments though at the end that had me relating to the Southwest commercials. With about 15 seconds left in the game, I hit a 3 to tie the game up. Unfortunately, this wouldn't be my most memorable game changing moment. The next play down, I over-helped and my player slipped and made a wide open lay-up to give them the lead. Wanna get away? Sure, but it gets worse, so hold that plane for me. My teammate inbounded the ball to me, and all I can say is I had a complete brain meltdown because I dribbled to half court and chucked a hail-mary shot up... with 11 seconds left on the clock. Not 1, but 11. Yup. Wanna get away? Please God, yes. Anywhere, anywhere at all would've been fine. I've literally never been so desperate to be anywhere other than where I was in that moment, standing at half court, the entire gym shocked and rather unimpressed with my complete lack of awareness. Someone put me out of my misery. Needless to say, we lost this game, the first one since I've been here, dropping us from 1st to 3rd place. I had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, though if you're counting those last two plays, I guess I really had 7 assists. Fortunately we have a double-header this weekend so we can get back on track.
Saturday night our club hosted a "Quiz Night" to raise some money for the organization and just to bring everyone together for some general merriment. Honestly, I was not pumped about this event, mostly cause I was still a bit embarrassed about our game the previous night, but the evening turned out to be brilliant. There were something like 10 rounds of questions with a wide range of categories and the team who answered the most correctly won, naturally. Obviously my team won and I can honestly say that I was considerably instrumental in our success for once. It ended up being a great night with great people and the perfect distraction from our loss. We kept the good times rolling at Tucker's place afterward and then went out in Rockingham, as well, to the one club our town has. It wasn't the classiest place I'd been to, but it had music and dancing so I was satisfied.
Last week when we had our bye, I also had the week off from work which opened up my afternoons. On Wednesday I went with one of my Aussie mates from the men's team, Ryan, to Penguin Island to visit with some penguins. The island is only a 5 minute ferry ride away and it's absolutely breath-taking. However, we didn't see one penguin on the island while walking around (I am told this is common), though we did see an alarming number of seagulls. Ick. Thankfully, the island has a "learning center" that houses like 10 penguins to ensure visitors do see at least one penguin before leaving. We watched them swim and waddle and eat inside the center and it was everything I hoped it would be. I was disappointed I couldn't feed one, but it was still pretty awesome seeing them up close.
Today was a big day for me. Since day one of arriving in Australia, my goals have been three-fold: win a championship (obvi), feed kangaroos, and meet a koala. Well friends, I accomplished two of the three today thanks to my teammate Tucks. She took me to Peel Zoo this afternoon where I got to hang out with Hamish, the most regal koala you've ever seen, annnnnd I got to feed lots of kangas. It was pure, unadulterated magic. It was a bit overwhelming at first knowing I was about to live out two of my dreams. Once I overcame this, I just went absolutely nuts running around petting and feeding the animals and taking shameless selfies with them. I even saw a dingo!! I did my best to not say it, but resistance was futile and I proudly yelled, "a dingo ate my baby!" Good times. It was a magnificent afternoon that I'd love to repeat... every single day.
With two games this weekend and two games next weekend, hopefully we can bounce back from the loss and string together some good wins again as we get closer to playoffs. Of course I will keep you posted, but until then, here are some more photos from my zoo experience today. You didn't ask for them, but you'd be fools to not appreciate these little gems. So, you're welcome.