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Former Griz stars take hardwood friendship overseas

By Vince Bagby, Sports Director, vbagby@keci.com
Published On: Jul 30 2013 05:03:37 PM MDT
Updated On: Aug 02 2013 06:52:54 PM MDT

Nearly every season there are former Griz basketball players trying to keep their professional hardwood dreams alive after graduation.  Often that leads to packing up for careers overseas.

That's the case right now for not just one but two 7-footers that use to call the University of Montana home.

"It was interesting my first year.  We struggled all year; we went through three coaches I think."

Despite some of the struggles that came with the team, Glendive, Montana native Derek Selvig says his first year playing basketball overseas in Germany was a good one.

"It was very fun.  The town of Gotha is fairly small for over there but the people were great, the fans were awesome.  They'd be at every game cheering and stuff.  It was a pretty fun experience my first year over."

Another former Grizzly just finished his second year as an overseas player.  Williston, North Dakota native Brian Qvale had an excellent year averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds for Belfius Mons-Heinaut in Belgium.

"The season went really well.  We were fighting for first place all season long and then we ended up losing three games to zero in the championship so we ended up second place after the season finished,” said Qvale.  “I was voted the best center in Belgium right after the season ended so that was a huge honor I was not expecting, that was great."

Qvale says this past season in Belgium was a cakewalk compared to the cultural shock of his very first season in Turkey.

"My wife and I learned a lot that first year in Turkey.  It was different.  Basketball was different, living was definitely different, we had to learn some Turkish just to try and eat.  In Belgium it was much more professional, it felt more like college."

Not only are Qvale and Selvig former Griz teammates, but these two have been friends since high school.  They say being in the same time zone and even getting to see each other has made the transition that much easier.

"Yeah I got to go watch Derek play and that was fantastic to go see him when you don't know many people over there and it's good to see a familiar face," said Qvale.

"It was awesome to have them come over,” agreed Selvig who will be finishing out the second half of his two year contract in Germany this upcoming season.  “That was probably the best game I've played you know was when they were at the game and it was just fun, they were over there for a couple days."

"Really it's great we're on the same time zone,” explains Qvale. “Because we're eight hours ahead of Montana and we're able to contact each other any time we need and help each other through."

"It's funny just looking back at how close of friends we've become over the years and now we're both playing overseas," reflects Selvig.

"Never thought that would happen but now that it is happening it's pretty cool to think of it, step back and look how far we've come from Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota to where we're at now," added Qvale.

"I think one thing we both want to have happen is to play on the same team over there,” said Selvig about their future overseas. “I don't know if that's ever going to happen but you know that would be pretty fun."

Qvale announced Monday that he has signed with a team in Germany this upcoming season; So although these two aren’t on the same team yet, they are excited to be playing this upcoming season in the same country.