COVID-19 has upended the world in every way imaginable, and the world of international basketball is no exception. Since coronavirus has been an issue in Europe for so long, American basketball players in other countries have been exposed to the struggles and difficulties of living through a pandemic for a minute. Ballers Abroad is talking with players to share their experience, and today we're catching up with Romeo Smith, a 24-year-old forward who had his second year of professional hoops end early in Spain.
Ballers Abroad: What team were you playing for this season, and what was it like when the season ended in March?
Romeo Smith: I played for Hero Jairis in Alcantarilla, Spain. When we found out the season was ending, it was after a Wednesday practice and our coach texted us saying that everything is being suspended until further notice. It was actually funny because we were unsure if we were going to practice that day until about an hour before.
Some players had to stay put where they were or decide to immediately come back to the U.S. Where have you been staying during quarantine, and how long do you think you'll be there?
RS: Fortunately for me, I was able to come back to my hometown of Chicago before everything was getting canceled, but it was a close call because I thought the season would resume. So I’ve been in Chicago since March, and hopefully I won’t be here long because I’m anxious for the return of the season. If I had to guess I would say I will be in Chicago until September, no later than October.
What were the communications like with your team and league like during this time? Did you talk to other players about it?
RS: The communication with my team was good. We kept getting updated information as we were learning what was going on. As far as talking to other players and their situations, I talked to a couple and theirs was similar. In fact, some of them that I talked to had to stay where they were longer than me and almost had to stay put.
What have you been doing to stay in-shape/game-ready?
RS: To stay in good shape I have been doing a lot of body weight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, etc. I’ve also been running and working on my agility at a field that's near me. To get shots up, I’ll go to a outdoor court but that’s about all I can do right now.
Now that most leagues and players are looking to next season, what do you think of the prospects for American players playing overseas next season?
RS: I would say it depends because everywhere is different, but I heard that the rules for American players were being changed before all this happened. I know where I was in Spain, the teams were allowed one or maybe two Americans - and that was before COVID-19. So they could change again, but like I said before it all depends on where you at.
It does, it does. We appreciate you taking the time to give us your insight!
RS: I appreciate you guys for giving me and other overseas players this platform to talk about these topics.