Former Pilot Jasonn Hannibal joins us from deepest Slovenia today. (Photo: Contract Sports)
In our latest instalment of our series From Long Distance with our Canadian ballers overseas, we have a post from the lone Canuck (according to EuroBasket.com that is) Jasonn Hannibal. Check out what our big man in eastern Europe has to say about his stay across the Atlantic right here ...
For those of you who don't know who he is, Jasonn Hannibal was a member of the University of Portland from 2007 until last season. For his career, he averaged a modest 2.2 points and 1.5 rebounds in over 8 minutes per game but is now playing pro ball. He is currently playing ball for Hopsi Polzela. His team is currently 16-9 and he is averaging 7.9 points and 5.2 rebounds in 19 minutes through 25 games. Check out his rookie mixtape here and his words on playing pro right here ...
Life in a foreign country
So this is Jasonn Hannibal, former University of Portland Pilot, now in Slovenia playing pro basketball. Life out here is different, from both my home in Mississauga and life in college.
I left home at 19 to go to college, and I considered that being by myself because I had no family, and for whoever knows their geography well, Toronto Ontario and Portland Oregon and pretty much on opposite sides of the continent. My family was only able to visit me once in my four years there. It was hard at times because I saw everyone else's parents at games often. There were times in college I would feel homesick, but I had some great friends who helped my through all my tough times on and off the court. Also in college you get really close to your teammates because you do everything together; live, have class, hang out...everything. Long story short, college was pretty tough for a Canadian going cross country to play basketball in a new environment not knowing anyone. College did a good job of getting me ready for the next level, in a way. It's hard to compare because things are so different.
So Slovenia is east of Italy. Needless to say I'm very far from home. I don't have school, homework or any of that mess so I can't complain about that, but its basketball all day every day. You thought two-a-days for a week was hard? Try doing that for a month then see how you feel. Then stack up month upon month of two-a-days and that's how tough it is. You body is pretty much always sore or tired but you have to push through. In a regular week we would have 10 practices and 1 game. Sunday off, then back at it on Monday. There is a lot of pressure to not only play well, but to win. Since I am one of the two foreign players on our team we are expected to score a lot and just get the job done. We have a lot of good players on our team so that take some pressure off of me, but on other teams that's not the case.
One thing you are constantly thinking about is getting cut because it can happen at any time and for no real reason. There are a lot of people who are willing and ready, waiting for the call to take your spot. So if they can find someone who can produce better than you can for cheaper chances are you will be getting sent home. During my time out here a lot of people have just disappeared which adds more anxiety and stress to your thoughts. With those things on your mind, it makes it hard to focus on the court sometimes. I know it was for me, because each time I missed a shot that I could have made, or each game that was in reach that we lost I figured the management might change their mind about me being a good fit for the team. Luckily they stuck with me through the whole season and I got better as we progressed. Everyone out here says rookie year is the hardest, and there are only 3 games left in mine so I'm excited to have survived year one and have it in the books.
Another thing that makes it tough is loneliness. If I'm not on the court, I'm just in my house either playing video games or on the computer. People always ask me why I don't go out and explore the town or go hiking or do something outside. They aren't here so they don't understand. I'm a building and all around me are farms and barns along with a couple stores and our gym. I don't have a car so I can't go anywhere else... so really what I am supposed to do? Walk around outside aimlessly as people are harvesting their crops?
Anyway, another thing that is usually what people think about first is the language barrier. Here in Slovenia they speak... you guessed it... Slovene. It is very similar to Croatian, Serbian and all those other eastern European languages. What most people don't know is that it is a very difficult language to learn, especially when you have no teachers except your teammates. They think it's important to learn all the bad words first... so I've been learning very, very slowly. There's a 6 hour time difference between here and home so it became harder to talk to my family now that my sister is now in college herself and my mom works long hours every day. So I find myself staying up really late to have to talk to my family but it's ok because family comes first.
Probably the last thing I want to mention that is important to know about life out here is all the free time. When I'm not on the court I'm in my house, and with that extra time you think about a lot of things. There must have been some people that have gone crazy out here because I could see how someone could lose their mind just sitting at home thinking for hours upon hours each day. An example is something crazy goes down at home, and there is nothing you can do to fix it. All you would do is think about the incident because there really isn't anything else to do or think about in depth.
All in all life out here is good and I love the life I am living and I wouldn't give it up. I'm trying to become the best player I can be, and play basketball for as long as I can. Working hard to make dreams come true.
We want to give a big thank you shout to Jasonn for taking the time to do an entry for us here at The Can Ball Report. You can follow the everyday pro life with him on Twitter @Jdizzle64 and be sure to check in with us again for another instalment of From Long Distance soon.