Off to a land Down Under

The Rainbow Warriors got in a rare practice in Gym 1 last week to prepare for their Australia trip. / Photo by Brian McInnis

After months of advance work, both University of Hawaii basketball teams have left for Down Under โ€”ย Australia for the Rainbow Warriors, New Zealand and Australia for the Rainbow Wahine.

The UH men departed today for Australia (10-hour flight, first stop, Brisbane) while the Rainbow Wahine have already arrived in Auckland (nine-hour flight) and play their first of four games tonight (Wednesday) at 7:30 p.m. HST (it’ll be 5:30 p.m. Thursday local time in Auckland). For the Wahine game, look for a fresh post on the Hawaii Warrior World home page that should provide a free streaming link to the Rainbow Wahine’s game against NZ Premier North.

Possibly important for both teams: the Rainbows’ Jack Purchase offered up a lingo lesson.

Here were a couple of interviews of Rainbow Warriors players from one of their final practices before the trip.

POINT GUARD DREW BUGGS:
On his summer leading into the trip:
Summer’s been good. We’ve just been trying to implement as much as we can in this short amount of time before we go to Australia. It’s been different having actual practices, but it’s been good. It’s been a little different at first, but we’ve gotten into kind of a rhythm now. Basically recruiting has been over and we’ve had multiple practices back to back. And we feel like we’re in a good spot heading towards this tour.”

On working in the new guys:
“You know, it’s been good. We’ve got a lot of returners, so it’s been pretty easy. A lot of guys to follow after, a lot of returners to just help along with the coaching staff. We’ve done a great job of trying to implement things one step at a time. Get the basics down at first, now we’re trying to implement a little more, like some plays and other things. Some wrinkles we can run. We haven’t got the chance to implement everything like we would be by the time of the season, but you can’t really expect that that with such a short time period.

On if he’s left the country before:
Nah, I haven’t. This is going to be my first time out the country, so I’m really excited for it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

On what his Aussie teammates have said:
They talk about Australia all the time. They talk about it like it’s the greatest place in the world. And I’m pretty sure it is a great country and I’m excited to see it, experience it for myself. Learn more about the country and just enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with my teammates.

On what he knows about opponents:
“I expect great competition. You know, these are all professional players, and the Centre of Excellence, you got a lot of great young players there. So I expect really good competition, a good chance for us to measure where we’re at, and also just work on some things as a team and get some early game experience.”

CENTER MATE COLINA

On his feeling going into the trip:
“I’m really excited. Can’t wait to go home and see the family, and show the boys around, especially the ones that’ve never been overseas before. It’s a new experience. It’ll be great team building for the season coming up, spending so much time together.”

On passing through his hometown of Melbourne and the capital of Canberra, where he played at the Centre of Excellence:
“I spent two and a half years at the Institute (of Sport in Canberra), so it’ll be good to go back there and see my coaches and former teammates. Going back home will be great, just to show the boys where I’m from, show them a little bit of my culture and introduce them to my family, and get to play against my old club, the Melbourne Tigers. Same as Jack’s former club. It’ll be good to match up against them and see my former coach.”

On scouting the teams he’s familiar with:
“(UH) can count on me for scout information. I’m happy to tell them how to guard all my (old) teammates. But it’ll be good, we shouldn’t expect it to be easy … these NBL teams might be really challenging, especially if they have all their roster players playing. But it will be good to see them again.”

On Australian legend Patty Mills working out at UH:
Patty’s been around, I’ve seen him a lot of times at the Institute as well. He comes, checks in, sees how we’re going. The Australian players are really good like that, staying connected with us. I’m close to (Andrew) Bogut as well, so it’ll be good to catch up with him in Sydney. And the team we play, Tom Wilson, he’ll be there as well, so it’ll be good to catch up with the boys.

On what this trip represents:
“I think it helps the school to build a relationship with another country. … In the future, the boys might want to maybe play down there, or coach down there, or even just live down there, take their families on holidays there. I mean, it’ll be good for the school to have a pathway for us to keep going and visit every, instead of every four years, three or two, so we can have a look.”

On what he’s looking forward to most:
“Definitely going to the AFL (Australian Football League). Go to an AFL game with the boys so they can see the atmosphere. What it’s all about. Because it’s really sort of difficult to describe sometimes. A lot of people think it’s rugby, but to see it for themselves, I think it’ll be good.
Melbourne vs. Sydney, it’ll be a top-eight clash for teams in the playoffs.

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