Vince Inglima had such an enjoyable experience in Australia he has decided to return there for another season.
After an outstanding season with the Dandenong Rangers in the Australian Basketball Association Division II professional league, the Rangers have signed Inglima, a 2002 Carson High graduate, to play another year for them in 2008.
Inglima led the Rangers in scoring this past season, averaging 22.1 points a game. The Rangers won the Big V division title and went on to beat Bendigo and Sydney in the playoffs to advance to the national championship game.
In the finals, this past August, the Rangers lost to Cairns 110-98. Dandenong finished the year at 23-4 and Inglima was the led all players in the national playoffs in scoring, averaging 26.7 points a game.
Dandenong has virtually kept its team in tact from last season as it looks to make another run for a national title. Inglima said its rare for a team to keep virtually all of its players for another season on the international level.
Inglima will also receive a raise to return to Dandenong. Last year, Inglima received $2,100 a month and this year he'll receive $2,600 a month.
The team will also continue to pay for his housing. "I had a really good time," said Inglima about his first year. "The team was great."
Inglima said the average age of the team was about 25-years-old. "We did a lot of stuff together," Inglima said.
"It was a real team feeling to it. That made the adjustment a little easier for me. It was really a lot of fun."
But Inglima admitted it took him some time to make the adjustment to international basketball.
"From college to international is wildly different," Inglima said. "The way it's officiated is much different."
Inglima said the officials called hand checking closely, but wouldn't call moving screens. Before coming to Australia, Inglima had a standout career with NCAA Division II Sonoma State.
He said he was used to a more structured style of play at Sonoma as opposed to what was used in Australia. He said the style in Australia was more individual-oriented.
"It was an adjustment for me getting used to the style of play," Inglima said. "It took a few games."
Inglima admitted he was inconsistent to begin the year. He would score more than 30 points one game and then come back and struggle the next. "It was a bit frustrating for me," he said.
But by the end of the year, Inglima hit his stride. He said he's hoping that last year's experience will help him be able to have a stronger start this season.
Inglima is now at Sonoma State serving as an assistant coach with the men's basketball team until he has to leave for Australia in mid-February for the season that begins in March. Inglima is also finishing up his studies at Sonoma State and will earn his computer science degree in December.
Inglima said he sees himself playing in Australia's Division II for another season or two. He said the only way he would keep playing longer is if he received the chance to move up to Australia's top level or even to play in Europe.
He said there are Americans who have played on Australia's Division II for as long as nine years. "I don't see myself doing that," Inglima said.
Dandenong is a suburb of Melbourne where Inglima lived. "It was a blast," said Inglima about living in Melbourne. "It's a really interesting place.
"It was really great and the people were awesome and that's why I'm going back there."