YEAR after year, Knox Raiders star CJ Massingale has fielded questions about why he has never played in the National Basketball League — from fans, teammates, opponents and even Immigration Department officials.
After eight seasons in the South East Australian Basketball League with the Raiders, Massingale finally has his chance at proving himself in the national league.
Last week, Massingale signed with the Adelaide 36ers as an import player for the NBL season which starts on October 5.
The deal is for one year and he will leave for Adelaide on Sunday to begin pre-season training.
Massingale, who turns 30 later this month, said he was excited to finally get his chance in the NBL.
‘‘It was great to sign because this has been in process for the past three months,’’ he said.
Despite making his name as one of the best imports to ever play in the SEABL, including winning the 2012 SEABL most valuable player award on Saturday night , Massingale had almost given up hope on ever getting to test himself at the next level.
‘‘I didn’t lose it but I just put that aside and focused more on the job at hand with Knox so I could get better each year and help the Raiders keep winning,’’ Massingale said.
He also revealed that during his attempts to get Australian citizenship he was asked by officials why he hadn’t played in the NBL.
He hopes playing in the NBL will speed up his citizenship application which is working its way through the system.
‘‘A few of the people who understood the sport a bit asked why, with my success and the support I’ve had, I hadn’t played NBL,’’ he said.
Midway through the London Olympics, Massingale’s name was suddenly in front of the 36ers coaches as they looked to finalise their roster.
Massingale said the 36ers recruitment of Australian stars Adam Gibson and Anthony Petrie left a place on their roster for an experienced shooting guard.
‘‘Their assistant coach Mark Radford called me a few weeks before their head coach Marty Clarke was due back from the Olympics,’’ he said.
‘‘It went on from there but it took us three months to get it done.’’
The signing process wasn’t a simple matter for Massingale, despite his desperation to prove himself.
Massingale, his wife, Leilani, and baby daughter are based in the Knox area and have support, friends and work commitments in the area.
But Massingale did the work to make sure he could both take care of his family and play in Adelaide.
‘‘It wasn’t just ‘the NBL is calling, you got to answer the call’,’’ he said.
‘‘With where I’m at with my career and family you have to take them into consideration.’’
While Massingale will head to Adelaide on Sunday, his family will stay based in Melbourne.
He also expects to return to the Raiders next SEABL season.
Massingale thanked all Raiders fans for their support.
‘‘I’ve had enormous support even from players around SEABL,’’ he said.
‘‘I hope I can open more pathways for guys to move up from this league.
‘‘I also keep it in prospective, for all the people supporting me, there is always one or two people saying I can’t play in the NBL. I hope to prove them wrong.’’