The differences in rules between college, international and NBA basketball vary greatly, from the length of the quarters to things such as goaltending and the three-point line (for a list of all the rule differences click here). We caught up with James Robinson to ask about those differences in comparison to the American game.
November 28 - We are almost at the halfway point of the Adriatic League and my team is in sixth place in the league with a 6-5 record. Comparing the style of play here to what I am accustom to in the United States, I have found there to be many similarities. However, one of the major differences that I have seen is the strategic use of defensive fouls throughout a quarter. Here, a defensive player is willing to commit a foul as soon as they feel the offensive player has beat them. The terminology my team uses for this tactic is a "small foul." I have seen these types of fouls committed in the States but definitely not at the rate they are used in Europe.
Another aspect of the game that I have noticed to be somewhat different is the amount of "team" basketball that is played here in Europe. There are very few one-on-one isolation plays, and each possession usually consists of four, if not all five offensive players touching the basketball at some point. Other than these two differences, along with a few minor rule changes, basketball is very much the same in Europe as it is in the United States.
Aleksandrovac, Bosnia-Herzegovina - These past few weeks have consisted of a lot of down time and practice. Having only one game per week leaves a lot of time for PlayStation, FaceTime, and texting friends and family back home. If anybody thinks they can beat me in Madden '17 add me (J-Rob_0) and we will see!
Basketball-wise, our record stands at 4-4 which is in the middle of the pack in the very competitive Adriatic League (*note: the Adriatic Legaue is a regional league that features teams from many countries, mostly from the former Yugoslavia including Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia and Montenegro). This past away game we played Zadar, a team based in Croatia. Their city is located along the sea so it made for some great sights. There was also a McDonald's in the city, so I had to take advantage of the opportunity and get some with a few of my teammates. This was the first "American" food I have had since leaving home so you can imagine how good it tasted!
We're back to Bosnia for this player diary to check in with James Robinson. After missing the beginning of the season (as explained below) Robinson's been on fire to start his year, averaging 21.2 ppg, 4.2 apg and 3.5 rpg through his first four games in the Adriatic League. He wrote a short post for us Oct. 12 about the beginning of his season and how he's adjusting to playing in a regional league - a rarity in professional basketball.
October 12 - After missing the first three games of the regular season due to a hand injury, it feels great to be back on the court. I've played in three games since my return (all wins) and the team record now stands at 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the Adriatic League. (note: the team's record is now 3-2 in the Adriatic League as of 10/19).
So far we have traveled to Macedonia and Belgrade, Serbia. The game in Macedonia was filled with nervous energy since it was my first official professional game. Making sure we won was ever so important in order to make the 12-hour bus trip back home more manageable. The other games were also hard-fought wins that came down to the last few possessions but we were able to come out victorious in those games as well.
While in Belgrade playing, I got a chance to see the city a little bit, and it's more modern buildings and infrastructure reminded me somewhat of being back in the States. Even though it was a short stay, we'll return there two more times this year where I hope to see even more of what the capital of Serbia has to offer!
As we introduced last week, we have started doing player diaries here at Ballers Abroad to see first-hand what it's like to play in another country. James Robinson, who debuted our new feature chronicling his first week as a pro, is back to tell us about how his preseason has been going. We hope to have more players as the season progresses.
August 19 - Definitely starting to miss home. Conditioning is starting to get boring and I wish we would just do basketball stuff. To make it worse, I have not had a good night's sleep yet!! However, one positive is that the food is good so I am not completely miserable. I can't wait to get a TV so playing my PS4 can occupy more of my down time rather than just laying in bed. We finally got a car last night so hopefully we can venture out past this city and see if there is more to offer in other cities.
August 22 - I am feeling a bit more "at home" with my teammates/coaches and overall lifestyle. I got a TV today to solve the boredom that happens pretty much whenever I'm not at practice. I can hook my PS4 up and kill hours playing that!
August 25 - We have had two real practices and a scrimmage coming up on Wednesday. Last night, I found a pizza shop not too far from my apartment and it was a relief to taste food that was somewhat like home.
August 31 - Today was our first official scrimmage/"friendly" game versus a local Bosnian team. It was a relief to not have conditioning and actually compete against somebody real. We got off to a really fast start and went on to win by 30 or so points. I felt good about my performance in my first professional game and look forward to what will definitely be a more competitive game on Friday against Cedvita. Looking back at today, it was an experience busing to and from the game all in the same day, but what really caught me off guard was going out to eat with the other team once the game had ended LOL!
When it comes to playing abroad, basketball is just a piece of the puzzle. Playing in foreign countries with different languages, cultures and customs, players must adapt to their surroundings off the court in order to perform well on it. Looking and acting different than the majority of their teammates (and the citizens of the countries in which they play), we wanted to explore what it was like for these players, so we reached out to various players to keep player diaries.
James Robinson is a rookie out of the University of Pittsburgh. The Maryland native has signed to played with Igokea, a team in Bosnia that competes in the Adriatic League, one of the few regional leagues in Europe. Robinson shared his experience with us in his first week as a pro:
August 12 - Today was the day I left the country. My parents, grandparents, Aunt Mona (and her dogs) and Aunt Diane, all came to the airport to see me off to my first professional "job." We all were happy/sad/nervous but knew this was a special time for our entire family. Boarding a packed flight headed to Germany, I was lucky enough to be with good friend and former DeMatha teammate Kam Taylor (*editors note: Taylor is beginning his first season playing for Ehingen Urspring in Germany). After a movie and eight hours of flight time, we landed in Frankfurt. Getting off the plane we both realized,"It's real now." We eventually went our separate ways as Kam headed to baggage claim and I headed to my gate to continue my journey to Zagreb, Croatia.
August 14 - Today will be my first full day in Bosnia. Last night I set my up apartment and got some local food. I did not have Wi-Fi in my apartment so I was really bored until I eventually fell asleep. Today's activities included going to the doctor to get checked out and becoming friends with two teammates, Nikola Pesak and Bojan Lulić. Tomorrow will be my first official practice as a professional basketball player.
August 15 - Day 1 of "practice." After not getting a single hour worth of sleep as my body had yet not adjusted to the time, I walked (halfway knowing my way) to the gym for practice. I quickly learned their definition of practice was way different. We lifted weights for an hour and then ran laps continuously around the soccer field for half an hour. Neither aspect of this practice was overly challenging, but I was hoping to have a more conventional basketball practice. After lift/conditioning we headed to lunch and to rest up before our 7 p.m. "practice." When the time came, I walked into the locker room and saw each player had their practice uniforms laid out so I just knew in my head a real practice was going to take place. My wishes did not come true. Instead, we spent the next two hours doing agility exercises and basic movements without a basketball. My lesson from the day was that in Europe, practice can mean anything!
August 17 - It is now Wednesday and we have the evening off from conditioning. After this morning's conditioning practice, I exchanged some U.S. dollars for Bosnian Marks. I went to the small convenience store by my apartment and found it to basically have anything and everything. The only problem was the brand names of the items were foreign to me, and the description of items were written in Serbian. I went out on a limb and bought different drinks, snacks, and breakfast bars based on what I thought may taste good based off the picture on the labels.
On Monday we'll share Robinson's thoughts on his second week abroad and hopefully find out if he gets to practice with a basketball!