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Washington blessed with global trip


Leaving his new wife and their two children behind in the United States to spend the next eight months playing basketball in Edinburgh may have been a tough choice for David Washington. 

But Edinburgh Rocks’ beanpole forward reckons that life in the Scottish capital is a walk in the park after spending last winter in the frozen reaches of the Ukraine. 

While playing for continental stars Kiev, Washington had the opportunity to play against some of the biggest teams this side of the Atlantic, including London Towers, in the Northern European Basketball League. 

After previously taking three years out of the sport to work as a PE teacher, Washington, a devout Christian, admits he "felt blessed" to get the opportunity to play overseas - even in a part of the globe he knew very little about.

"I took the job and went in blind," he said. "It wasn’t as bad as people had painted it. Ukraine is a very pretty country, with a lot of history. 

"It surprised me how well they accepted African-Americans. They opened their arms up to me as did the other players, the president, the owners. 

"They had some other African-Americans there but they were mainly in the military. For the most part, everywhere I went people were friendly." 

Nevertheless, Washington is enjoying the more relaxed environment he has found in Edinburgh. At 6ft 6in tall, he might still be noticed in a crowd but the freedom to roam unhindered is a welcome change. 

"The main problem I had over there was being harassed by the police. Everywhere I went, they pulled me over. It was wild, but the club gave me documents to present and that usually cleared things up quickly. Edinburgh I love because everyone here speaks English, so I don’t have to adjust. The people are friendly, the food is Americanised." 

Despite his positive early impression of the Capital, Washington has no plans to bring over his family from their home in Dayton, Ohio, to join him. With a further addition to his brood due in the spring, being parted for such a long period is a sacrifice for he and his spouse. But both accept it is part and parcel of a basketball career. 

"I stopped playing and taught PE because I wanted to be with my family," he recalls. "But I realised that my calling at that point wasn't yet to teach. Basketball was still in me. So I had to get that out of my system.

"With our oldest kid being three, the other being in one, my wife has to stay in the States right now. So you have to have an understanding, someone who sees the long-haul picture. I could stay at home and work but you make a plan. She understands that and she is God-fearing woman and I'm a God-fearing man so we both believe things will work out."

He recalls: "When I took the job in Kiev, with them being so young I didn’t want to expose them to a different place in the world. At least if anything happened to me, I knew they would be all right. Right now, it’s easier for them to stay at home." 

Along with fellow newcomers Damon Johnson and Ryan Huntley, 30-year-old Washington has been in impressive form on the court and his defensive contribution was central in the Rocks’ Cup upset of London Towers. 

So far, Washington has shown little of his scoring prowess yet he has been a key factor in Rocks’ promising start. With struggling Leopards next on the horizon for Kevin Wall’s men, he believes there is still much more to come from the Scots. 

"Every night is not going to be my night, but as long as we stick together we’ll be okay," said Washington. "Defence wins championships. Offense wins games. 

"What matters here is the post-season, when the Championship is on the line. We’re taking it game by game to try and get there." 

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