I'll be back, declares Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie had some bad news and some good news for Kiwi hoops fans as he spoke for the first time about his sudden departure to France to play out the season.
The Breakers and Tall Blacks star turned his back on the Waikato Pistons and New Zealand NBL to take up a short-term deal with ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne in France.
Abercrombie left before even playing a game for the Pistons but yesterday said the club had been aware all along of his preference to head to Europe and had been kept in the loop on all his discussions.
However, he confirmed that it was unlikely he would be back in time to play any part in the Pistons' NBL campaign this season.
"There are four more games left in the regular season, and the playoffs go anywhere from a couple of weeks to almost a couple of months.
"So I think it will probably be time for a little rest after this and get ready for world champs, but it depends when we finish."
ASVEL are currently seventh in the 16-team French league with a 15-11 record and with the top eight heading into the post-season the likelihood is he'll be required to extend his stay.
But the 26-year-old yesterday offered steadfast assurances for Breakers fans concerned he might seek to activate an out-clause in his contract and secure a big money deal in Europe next season.
"It's certainly something I've always wanted to do," said Abercrombie of the chance to dip his toes in the waters of European basketball.
"This was an opportunity to come over here on a short term and get a taste of the things over here. It was the ideal situation.
"But I'm contracted and looking forward to coming back to the Breakers next season.
"There's certainly no danger of me going elsewhere next season."
Abercrombie also sought to offer some assurances over the hurried and clandestine nature of his departure soon after the Breakers wound up their worst season since 2006-07.
"It all happened very quick. I got a call from my agent, and within a few days was on a plane. I didn't even sign a contract till I got over here.
"It was disappointing that I had to pull out so close to start of the NBL season. But I was open with them right from the get-go, and they knew coming to Europe was my first priority."
Abercrombie played just two minutes off the bench of his first game in France (a 73-72 overtime victory at home against Antibes) after flight delays severely limited his preparation time.
But he was expecting a more significant role when their campaign resumes tomorrow in Paris.
"We've got a couple of guys who play the 2-3 position, but from what the coach has said, they want cover and options there."
As well as lapping up some experience in a strong European league - and possibly setting himself up for an opportunity beyond next season, Abercrombie is fine tuning his game for the World Cup campaign with the Tall Blacks.
"I wanted to keep playing at a high level. The French league is extremely physical, they're good athletes, and training with these guys every day is only going to help me."
Regardless of how the season plays out, Abercrombie says he'll be back in New Zealand to play a full part in the Tall Blacks' preparations for Spain.