Cameron Gliddon’s European Adventure

With the Cairns Taipans’ season ending prematurely and the Rio Olympics lurking on the horizon, Cam Gliddon was eager to maintain his peak physical condition in the lead up to Boomers camp in July.

The Western Australia native was considering a stint overseas to keep himself fit, and had long toyed with the idea of playing in Europe.

After discussing his options with Boomers head coach Andrej Lemanis, Gliddon decided to make his European dream a reality when he signed a 10-week deal with Polish club AZS Koszalin.

Expanding his basketball horizons will not only keep Gliddon fit for national team selection, but also work wonders for his game.

“Sometimes you just need a shock to the system like that to improve your game,” Gliddon told Downtown, hours before flying out of Melbourne.

“When you take yourself out of your comfort zone, out of your country, your house, everything you’ve been doing for years, I think it can only improve your game.”

Gliddon made his Polish debut on Friday night, finishing with 7 points and 3 rebounds on 2-5 shooting. He played a team high 33 minutes, but lost 72-52 on the road to third-placed Anwil Wloclawek.

Gliddon is still feeling out his new role. After all, training and film sessions can only prepare someone to a certain point.

Nothing completely prepares players for game day at an unfamiliar level, other than actually hitting the court, playing meaningful minutes and learning on the job.

AZS Koszalin sits just outside of a playoff spot, and according to Cairns head coach Aaron Fearne, that added pressure will strongly benefit Gliddon.

“He’s almost in, for lack of a better phrase, a bit of a sink or swim situation,” Fearne told Downtown.

“Right away he’ll have that added pressure to get them into a playoff position.

That will really help him, because he’s going to have to go out there and make plays all the time. I definitely expect him to come back a different player.”

It’s hardly the first time that Gliddon – not one to ease into things – has been thrown in the deep end.

Just four months after graduating from Concordia University – a division two school in Irvine, California – Gliddon returned home to log 31 minutes a game with the Cairns Taipans in his first professional season.

“After playing lower level college, he was thrown to the wolves to play for us right from the start,” Fearne said.

Gliddon claimed Rookie of the Year honours and absolutely thrived throughout his transition from division two college ball to the professional circuit.

He then claimed two club MVPs, was anointed Taipans captain and made a grand final appearance within the following three years.

Gliddon proved that he was a swimmer, not a sinker.

Also working in Gliddon’s favour during his current European stint will be his preference for playing within a system. While some of his NBL counterparts may prefer loose, improvised play, Gliddon thrives within a set structure.

“He wants the game played a certain way,” said Fearne. “He doesn’t want to play raggedy basketball. He wants a system, that’s very European by nature.”

Just as Gliddon was forced to rewire four years of habitual, on court behaviour when he arrived in Cairns, he’ll again cast away four years of gradually acquired familiarity in favour of a new regime.

“I’ve been running the same system for four years,” Gliddon said.

“Trying to change the rules that have been implanted in my mind will certainly be a challenge.”

Learning a new system while adjusting to a fresh batch of coaches and teammates can be a tough transition, even for well-travelled players.

Training camp generally aids the process, but with just over one week between the ink drying on Gliddon’s Polish contract and his debut last Friday, training camps are a luxury with which Gliddon was not been blessed.

For the Cairns skipper, it’s been like starting a new subject during swotvac and turning up to the exam a week later.

To reduce the need for last minute cramming upon his arrival, Gliddon attempted to study his new team ahead of time, but was limited in his ability to prepare.

“I watched a bit on YouTube to try to familiarise myself with the way they play, but until you get there you’re really going in a bit blind,” Gliddon explained.

While Gliddon toils away in Poland to further his development, he says he’s pleased with his career progress so far.

For the most part.

“I’m happy with how things have gone, but I’ve definitely wanted to win more,” Gliddon said.

At college, Gliddon’s Concordia University Eagles went a combined 112-22 and won the 2012 NAIA national championship.

In the NBL, his Taipans experienced one stellar season in 2014/15 – in which they made the Grand Final series – but Gliddon’s other three seasons in orange were below .500.

“While it would’ve been good to do more winning, I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish and to put on the green and gold a few times,” Gliddon said. The Taipans captain doesn’t shy away from his national team aspirations, but he’s well aware of the monumental challenge involved in making the Olympic team during Australian basketball’s golden age.

“Just to know that I’m in contention to go to that training was a bit of a shock,” Gliddon said.

“I didn’t think I’d done enough this year. So when Andrej (Lemanis) called me and said that I’m still in contention, it was a great feeling.”

Making the final squad is an overwhelming task, and Gliddon plans to take this year’s Boomers experience step by step, cut by cut.

Aaron Fearne knows Gliddon’s game better than almost anyone, and agrees that he’s worthy to feature in the Boomers conversation.

“I think he’s got a good chance, and he’s coming off a fantastic year,” Fearne said.

After slotting Gliddon into the national team during last year’s Oceania series in place of the injured Damian Martin, Andrej Lemanis evidently agrees.

Regardless of whether or not Gliddon finds his way back into a green and gold singlet later this year, coach Fearne has his young captain’s back.

“I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t successful, I’d take that a little personally,” Fearne laughed.

“He’s played in this program for a long time, and you want your guys to be successful and help them prepare for the next level, whatever that may be.”

Fearne has little reason to worry.

Gliddon is as prepared as he could ever be, and generally does his best swimming shortly after being thrown in the deep end.


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