Keeping the dream alive
It doesn’t seem that it was that long ago Devin Ginty was zipping up and down the floor, taking charges and diving for loose balls to help lead the Colfax Falcons’ boys basketball team to a pair of back-to-back CIF Sac-Joaquin Section championships.
As a junior at Colfax High in 2006, Ginty teamed with the likes of Ari Iventosch, Kevin Kleppe, Chase Oliver and Russell Stone in helping the Falcons turn back Argonaut 61-59 on a last second lay-in by Stone for the Div. IV title at Arco Arena.
And, the Falcons had so much fun that year, they did it again in 2007. With Ginty fueling a 21-10 fourth quarter rally, Colfax overcame Amador, 55-47, again at Arco for its second consecutive CIF crown. In two seasons, with Ginty in the backcourt, the Ron Pucci-coached Falcons were 59-4.
Fast forward now to 2013 and although he’s 6,000 miles and six time zones away, Ginty is living his dream. He’s in Helsinki, Finland playing professionally for the To-Po team in the Finnish first division.
“It’s definitely been an adventure,” said Ginty. “The competition is decently high and I’m really enjoying the experience.”
Ginty, who had a fine collegiate playing career at the University of San Diego, noted that the first division his To-Po team plays in is not quite the toughest league, but it is regarded as a very good professional league because Finland is a place in Europe where basketball is still on the rise.
“Before I came here I played in a pro league in Ireland but the funding and interest there is depleting,” said Ginty. “This is definitely a step up.”
Ginty, a 6-2 guard, is currently averaging 13.4 points and four assists per game for To-Po which 11-6 and sits in second place in the division.
According to Ginty, each Finish team is allowed three American players and one "bossman" (a player from any country in Europe, besides Finland).
“I’ve had to adjust my game over here because the officials are a little soft and quick with the whistle. Even the Finnish guys complain about the poor officiating and their lack of basketball experience, but it is something I can't change and I've learned to adjust to.”
Ginty’s To-Po team’s home arena is the site where basketball was played when Helsinki hosted the 1952 Olympic Games.
“Our team is playing well right now,” Ginty added. “We had a rough start because one of the other Americans and I were both brought in two days before our first game where we played the other top two teams in the league back to back.”
Ginty burst onto the college scene at the University of San Diego rather inauspiciously. In just his second start as a true freshman and playing on national television, he went five for five from the field including four treys and four for four from the foul line in scoring 18 points to lead USD over Kentucky, 81-72, at Rupp Arena.
He would go on to play in 122 career games for the Toreros where he finished with 546 career points, 108 three-point baskets and 199 career assists.
So, after graduating from USD with a degree in history in 2011, Ginty started the pursuit of his dream.
“ I really wanted to travel and in my heart I knew I wasn't done playing basketball yet,” said Ginty. “I had the opportunity to do a month long tour through Taiwan with a team and then returned again to Asia with a tour through China on a different team. I also went to big combines in Mexico and Las Vegas.”
But Ginty started to run into roadblocks in his attempt to be signed by a European team. Because of the restrictions on American players, many clubs are are looking for only for tall, athletic players.
“There’s not a big market for small guards,” said Ginty. “I had a couple of agents trying to place me but as it worked out my best agent turned out to be my mom.”
Devin’s mother, Maureen, a teacher at Sierra Hills School in Meadow Vista, went to work for her son and because of Ginty’s Irish heritage, she was able to make the contact to have him placed on a team in Ireland.
“It was nice but to be honest with you, the basketball there wasn’t very good,” said Ginty. “So when the opportunity came to go to Finland, it worked out just right.”
Ginty noted that even though it's quite cold and dark at times, the Finnish people are very welcoming.
“Once I got settled in I’ve found that it’s a very enjoyable place plus this is a good step up for my basketball career,” said Ginty who also is coaching a coaching a couple youth teams. “I really enjoy the coaching part. The kids are great and I help them work on their English. Its nice to get another foreign perspective on the game because I want to be a coach after I hang up my playing shoes.”
In looking back, Ginty notes that he wouldn’t change a thing about his basketball odyssey.
“It’s crazy the places a sport can take you,” said Ginty. “ I am so thankful for the opportunities that the sport I love has provided me with and I’m trying to make the most of them with a positive attitude.”