From the courts at Broadmeadows to the international stage, basketballer Samara Gallaher has had to put in some fancy footwork.
The New Zealand national, who has spent the past two years playing for the Hume City Broncos in Big V, has again been named in the Kiwis’ Tall Ferns squad.
The squad plays Chinese Taiwan and Japan before facing Australia twice next month in its bid to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. First of those two games will be at Rod Laver Arena on August 15.
The 22-year-old says it’s a relief to be with her home team again. “It’s amazing; I’ve been working all year towards it,” Gallaher said from New Zealand last week. “If anything, it’s almost harder to make the team this time around. Eyes are watching you and making sure you hit the benchmark of what you’ve done previously.”
It’s the third year she’s been named in the squad after making her debut against the Opals in 2013.
“I was first into the [national] program when I was 16, and have been developing with them over the past few years.
“I officially debuted in 2013 against the Opals.
“It was a surreal feeling to play against the likes of Lauren Jackson and Suzy Batkovic, who I’d grown up watching.”
Since then, Gallaher has stepped up and been part of the starting five on several occasions.
Playing for her country, though, means Gallaher misses the rest of the Big V season.
The Broncos finished the end of the regular season on top of the ladder, and won the final game of the regular season 77-57 against Diamond Valley.
“The same thing happened last year [when the Broncos won the state championship division] – I missed the whole finals.
“To work hard all year and be taken away at the last minute does hurt.
“Fingers crossed we make it all the way, and I can come back in time.”
Gallaher hasn’t looked back since joining the Broncos last season.
“They called me saying they needed a guard. I had no knowledge of the team or the league at the time, but I was in Australia within two weeks. It has accelerated my development dramatically, having regular matches in a competition of really good standard.
“Halfway through last season I said, ‘Sign me up again, I want to come back’. I would love to stay in Australia.”
The Broncos’ men’s team will play McKinnon in the first week of the finals after finishing the regular season in fifth spot.
Whittlesea Pacers finished the season in seventh, one game outside the top six.
In women’s division 1, the Pacers finished the regular season on top of the ladder, three games clear of second place.