On his second day in town, his car was rear-ended as he drove to practice. He was taken to the hospital, and his inability to speak Italian made it difficult for him to get help until someone realized he played for the local basketball team. By then, Summers’ girlfriend had already received a call from a team official alerting her that Summers hadn’t made it to practice. She was happy to eventually learn he had suffered only whiplash in the accident.
“I got hit by a small SUV on my blind side of the passenger side,” Summers said. “When I got hit, I ended up on the other side of the car in the backseat. That’s how hard I got hit. I was just shocked. I never have been in an accident like that.
“People here drive much different. It’s not as organized as back home, driving in-between lines. You got to be more alert.”
Summers averaged about 18 points for Siena in the preseason. But the team was missing four players and its coach (Simone Pianigiani), all of who were involved in the European championships for the respective countries. Once Siena had its full roster together, Summers’ role changes. In his regular-season debut, he scored three points in 12 minutes.
“That was my first red flag,” he said. “In the preseason I was playing close to 30 minutes every game. But when the real games started I was getting 14, 15, 16 minutes. It was weird. I couldn’t understand it.”
In my previous life covering sports for the Flint Journal, I wrote about quite a few Flint area basketball players who are now pros overseas, and they frequently had horror stories about not getting paid or being left to essentially fend for themselves in unfamiliar cultures. They all used to talk about the need to find a place where you can not only play, but a place where you will be taken care of and comfortable. For some, it took a few different stops to do that.
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