Zac Maloney finding his groove in German league

BRAVE NEW WORLD: Wagga Heat captain Zac Maloney in action for German club Hamm Stars earlier in the season. Picture: Supplied
BRAVE NEW WORLD: Wagga Heat captain Zac Maloney in action for German club Hamm Stars earlier in the season. Picture: Supplied

Wagga Heat captain Zac Maloney has helped his new German club Hamm Stars to an unbeaten start four games into the Oberliga season.

Despite averaging about 13 points per game, Maloney is the first one to admit he is still finding his feet, having arrived in the country just six weeks ago.

The Wagga talent has ridden a rollercoaster through the emotional peaks and valleys that come with adjusting to a new team, and a new life, in an unfamiliar country.

“It’s been a pretty tough transition to be honest,” Maloney said.

“It’s a tough league and a much more physical league.

““I’ve just been trying to settle in, find my role and find ways to contribute.

“Playing on vinyl courts has been a tough one to get used to as well, it’s hard to dribble with the ball not bouncing as much.”

Adding to the young guard’s early troubles, he sprained his ankle last week and will likely be out until the weekend or early next week.

But Maloney’s European adventure got off to a tremendous start, scoring 20 points against a team two divisions above Hamm in a preseason clash within 24 hours of touching down in Germany.

His next couple of games were less memorable, as the physicality and unfamiliar style of play began to get the better of him.

The Wagga Heat captain then recaptured his previous hot form, before his momentum was again interrupted, this time by the ankle injury.

But Maloney remains upbeat that he’ll be fit within the coming days and said he was looking forward to rejoining his high-flying squad.

Hamm have burst out of the gates, winning three of their first four games by 42, 38 and 29 points respectively.

“We should probably be in a higher division,” Maloney said.

“It's all about promotion and relegation here and we’re well on our our way to being promoted.”

Life outside of basketball has also been a major adjustment for Maloney, but his experiences off the court have mirrored those off it, in that he is starting to find his way.

“It can be hard being away from home and missing family,” he said.  

“But Hamm itself is nice and a lot like Wagga in many ways.

“It isn’t a massive city and the people are very nice, they’ll often try to talk to you, but because of the language barrier all I can really do is smile and wave.”

Despite Maloney making a concerted effort to brush up on his German, he has not quite been able to shake the confusion - and amusement - which the language barrier can bring.

“I remember we went to a kebab place and when I went to order I pointed out the three things I wanted to be left out of my kebab.

“He understood that as me asking for extras, so he filled it with everything I didn’t want and nothing I did want.”

Maloney now hopes to play in this weekend’s top of the table clash with SG VFK Boele-Kabel.

But to get back on the court in time, he’ll have to work past the ill effects of his ankle injury (and disastrously unappetising kebab).