TIM Gainey remembers arriving in Australia as a fresh-faced American import 13 years ago.
He never expected to remain long-term but the Colorado native soon found himself entrenched in the Warrnambool community.
He met his wife Louise in the south-west Victorian town and is now raising four daughters.
His commitment to his other love, basketball, remains strong.
The Warrnambool Seahawks coach will play his 300th Big V game on Saturday when his side hosts Coburg Giants at the Arc.
"I think like every import you only expect to be here for a little bit," Gainey recalled on Wednesday.
"I still did travel - obviously as an import you're only allowed to be here for the season.
"I was only here for five months at a time most of the time. I did get to travel and go to other places.
"I've been to China, South America and all over America. I saw the world but Australia has always been the country I loved the most so I came back here."
Gainey, who is now an Australian citizen, has embraced his adopted country's culture - for the most part.
"I still don't like Vegemite. I can tolerate it but I don't eat it," he said.
He misses the deep-fried food of his childhood, like buffalo wild wings, but is grateful for Australia's healthier options.
"I like all the fresh stuff here," Gainey said.
"In America it's all processed and I like all the fresh vegetables and fruit...going to a butcher and getting meat here.
"It's totally different in America so I like that part of it (here)."
Gainey's career started at Cochise University in Arizona before earning a scholarship at National Collegiate Athletic Association division one school Southern Utah University.
There he played against soon-to-be NBA players.
"It was a really good opportunity for me at the time," Gainey said.
"I got to play against the likes of Andrew Bogut...and I played against Josh Childress for those couple of years as well.
"It was really set up for me, only a couple of hours from Las Vegas which was a plus, the basketball was good and I met a lot of life-long friends.
"I just enjoyed my time there and probably matured the most because I was away from family and (you) had to cook for yourself and do laundry."
His biggest career highlight is the Seahawks' drought-breaking 2016 Big V championship.
It took Gainey 10 years of personal toil to help the club win its first title in 18 seasons.
"Winning championships, there's nothing like it," he said.
"All the heartache before it, to finally win a championship outweighs everything.
"I wish I could've won one with Bob (Cunningham) and a few of the others."
It's that commitment to the Seahawks' cause Gainey, now 36, wants to be remembered for when he retires.
He helped Nathan Sobey develop into an Australian Boomers guard and is busy every Wednesday coaching kids in Port Fairy.
"I couldn't care less about the MVPs and awards," Gainey said.
"I was always more interested in making sure these kids here progress as Warrnambool is usually a young team.
"That's what I want to be remembered as - a good teammate and hopefully a positive vibe in the community."
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