Slovakian star Regina Palusna is ticking playing in Australia off her basketball bucket list as she suits up for the Mandurah Magic for the rest of the 2018 State Basketball League season.
The former Slovakian national team member touched down in Mandurah about three weeks ago, and is calling on her championship winning experience from her time playing in Europe to help the Magic in their quest for a maiden SBL title.
She joins the Magic on the back of a stint playing in Sweden, where she struck up a rapport with 2017 Mandurah all-star Nici Gilday, who played on the same team.
Gilday’s connection to the Magic led Palusna to her dream of playing basketball in Australia, and now she’s hoping to repay the faith on the court for Mandurah.
The 29-year-old centre boasts a listed height of 192 centimetres, and has sound fundamentals with a knack for strong passing.
But outside of that, she also brings a wealth of basketball experience to the Magic.
Palusna has been balling for 21 years, and has been on a professional contract since the age of 17.
She spent time in the prestigious EuroLeague and also helped Slovakia to sixth place in a world championship tournament.
But now her biggest test lies in adjusting to Australian basketball, a style she says is markedly different from the game they play in Europe.
“European basketball is a lot tougher, much more physical,” she said.
“Here, players are quite fast, so I’m just trying to get a feel for how basketball is played here at the moment and get some chemistry with the team.”
As to where she hopes to finish the season with the Magic, Palusna has one clear goal in mind.
“I want to win the championship,” she said.
“I’m always ambitious when I play, and I want to win medals, so for me it’s all about winning with my teammates.”
Those teammates, along with the entire Mandurah Magic family, have made the transition easy for Palusna.
“Everyone is so welcoming here that it makes you feel so comfortable, even though you’re on a completely new team,” she said.
“My host family have been amazing for me, and the girls I play with have all really made me feel at home.”
Palusna will lace up her kicks in the Magic’s toughest test of the season so far on Friday night, as the team braces for the league-leading Lakeside.
The game tips off at the Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre at 6.30pm, with the men’s game to follow.