Playing professional basketball in Europe can be tough on Americans who are close to their families back home.
Time zones mess with the ability to talk on the phone, and family members can spend more than 12 hours on an airplane if they want to visit to watch their loved one play. Playing in Europe can be lonely.
But Atlantic City's Frank Turner made it work this year. He played in Holland for the Eiffel Towers Den Bosch of the Eredivisie League and won a league championship in his first overseas job.
"I didn't know what to expect," said Turner, 24, who is back home now. "I was alone and in an unfamiliar place. I was ready for the challenge but very nervous."
In the clinching game of the best-of-seven championship, Turner had 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. In 41 games with Den Bosch, Turner averaged 12.7 points, 4.6 assists and 3.7 rebounds.
He had to change his game a bit because the focus in European leagues tends to be different than what is in the United States.
"It's a very physical game, but it's more of a strategic game," said Turner, who was The Press Co-Player of the Year as a senior for the Vikings in 2005-06. "In America, we tend to dominate the game with our athleticism and speed. Here in Europe, it's more of a team game."
Tory Cavalieri, 30, another former Atlantic City standout, knows what it takes to play overseas. He played in Italy's top league for a year but didn't go back. Cavalieri, an Atlantic City firefighter, didn't like being away from his family for that long.
"I just wasn't happy," Cavalieri said. "It's not for everyone."
Cavalieri and Turner train together now that Turner is back in the area. They work out at Atlantic City High School, focusing on the smaller things that will make Turner a better overall player.
He's got the fundamentals down.
"He's as smart as they come," Cavalieri said. "Guys over there play much smarter. It's different style. Frankie's basketball IQ is through the roof. He's a player that comes every 10 years."
The biggest emphasis of the training will be to work on Turner's jump shot. He can score, but more consistency with his shot would help.
"Right now, he's working on his form and technique," Cavalieri said. "The biggest thing for him is shooting the same way every time. He can hit shots with confidence, but when he loses his confidence, he changes his form."
After graduating from Canisius College, Turner played for the Atlantic Coast Professional Basketball League's Buffalo Stampede. But the team folded in 2011 and Turner went to Europe in hopes of finding success.
He went to Holland last August and played in the league, which runs from October to May.
The transition was slightly easier there than it might have been in other countries because many of the Dutch understand English, but Turner also worked at learning the language.
"In Holland, English is the second language and they speak it very well," Turner said. "The language is very hard to learn but over time I picked up some of it. My teammates teach me and I listen to their conversations, sometimes understanding what the topic is about."
Turner plans to play in Europe again next season, but he doesn't yet know where. He'll decide that in the coming weeks.
But what makes it easier for him no matter where he goes is that he gets to play with and against people he knows from the United States. And, of course, email, Skype - a video conference software - Facebook and the occasional phone call make it easier for Turner to go overseas. He still can talk to family and friends and get the support he needs.
"I knew Frankie since he was born," Cavalieri said. "He's so close to his mom and his family. I thought he was going to end up like I did. But with all the technology, he doesn't have to do that."
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