The NBA's miss is the Canterbury Rams' gain

Last updated 05:00 20/03/2014
BIG MAN: American import Matt Rogers speaks to a TV3 reporter while training at Hornby High School.

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American basketballer Matt Rogers is a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason.

The 2.11m Canterbury Rams centre got within touching distance of breaking into the NBA, with the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2010-11 season and the Indiana Pacers in the lockout shortened 2011-12 season.

He played for both sides during pre-season, but was omitted from the full roster at the last hurdle. NBA teams are only allowed to carry a maximum of 15 players in their squads and Rogers was one of the unlucky names to miss out before the opening game.

"Both pre-seasons, I made it to the final cut. I was a day away from making it. There's some heartache in it, but there's also positive things that come out of it.

"They said I was good enough to be on the team, but the position wasn't available."

Rogers drew heavily on his faith to deal with the disappointment. He is a devout Christian and told The Press religion has always been a massive part of his life. His father, Wade, is a pastor back home in Springfield, Missouri, and he had tried to be true to himself and his values.

"It can be very discouraging to not quite reach your dream, but through all the situations, I've always had my faith and always had God with me to lead me through that."

Rogers was a standout for division two school, Southwest Baptist University in Missouri, where he led the team to two conference titles. He was a strong chance to be selected in the 2010 NBA draft, but tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his last year at college.

Rather than reflect on the agony of missing the NBA, Rogers looked for the good that came from it.

He ended up playing in the NBA's development league (D-league) with the Texas Legends and went on meet his future wife, Rachael.

During his NBA pre-season stint, he took to the court against some of the greatest basketballers in the world, including LeBron James, Chris Bosh (who was playing for the Miami Heat) and Oklahoma City Thunder players Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

"It's easy to to see those as missed opportunities or almost failures ... but like we say in the church, 'If something doesn't work out, God has got something better for you'."

Rogers' basketball career has also allowed him to travel the world, playing the game he loves.

He has played professionally in Spain, the Philippines, a short stopover in Lebanon, before injury struck, and his most recent destination - Qatar.

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"It's a spontaneous lifestyle. I might be at home and get a call from a team and be leaving. You have to be very flexible with the people in your life."

Rogers was attracted to Christchurch through Caleb Harrison, the brother of Rams coach Dave Harrison. Caleb Harrison was a former assistant coach at Southwest Baptist.

He had quickly immersed himself into the Kiwi culture, learning how to play cricket at a Rams barbecue last week.

This weekend, he will represent the Rams for the first time in pre-season games against the Otago Nuggets in Timaru (Saturday) and Dunedin (Sunday).

Canterbury open their season on April 6 against the Wellington Saints at Christchurch's Cowles Stadium.


Matt Rogers

Age: 26

Height: 2.11m

Weight: 102kg

Position: Centre or power forward

Birthplace: Doniphan, Missouri

College: Southwest Baptist University

- The Press


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