ADAM Slattery knew before he departed for Seattle, Washington, the gulf between basketball in Australian and basketball in the United States, a place where the game can be considered a national sport, was abundantly huge.
Little did he know, however, just how much he’d gain from the experience.
Slattery was just one of three Orange basketballers alongside Katie MacKenzie and Aleacia McIntyre to go on the NPIRE Experience tour of the West Coast of the USA, a trip organised by Olympic silver medallist, Opal Natalie Porter.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one Slattery, 20, is already benefiting from.
“I’ll bring back so much,” the point guard said.
“Just the intensity you’ve got to play at. In youth league in Australia you’d see us walk the ball up sometimes, you don’t get a chance to do that in America.
“Everything has just got to be spot on. Ball handling must be spot on, passing must be spot on. If you have something just a little bit off, it’s gone, they’ve got two points for it.”
And a lot of the time over in the states, Slattery’s opposition cashed in on those two-point opportunities.
In games against Seattle Lutheran High School and Aubin High School, the men’s NPIRE team couldn’t match it with its more experienced rivals, losing both.
Not that Slattery expect to win.
He knew the standard would be high.
However, under the guidance of former Milwaukee Buck and Denver Nugget guard Adonis Jordan as coach, the NPIRE boys fought back to defeat the Seattle Jesuits High School 67-54.
It proved a valuable match for the group.
In the side’s only other full game against the Oregon Shoreline Community College, a team that has NBA scouts falling over themselves in an attempt to find the game’s next big thing, Slattery said his side was outplayed convincingly.
“I play division one youth league here for Bathurst and these high school kids [in Seattle] are just a class above. They’re just so much better than what we are,” he said.
“They train every day ... one day basketball and one day weights. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Training isn’t the only difference.
“And the physicality... it’s pretty much football,” he smiled. “They weren’t as big as I was expecting; I thought they’d all be seven foot tall. I was short, though.”
The team also had the chance to play at half-time of the Portland Trail Blazers’ home NBA game in Oregon, an experience Slattery says he’ll never forget.
The NPIRE company was established by Porter and offers players the chance to go on basketball tours as a pathway to improve their games and experience a different culture.