Travelers tell tales

Two international basketball players talk about their journeys to compete on Biola’s men’s team.

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Caroline Sommers/ THE CHIMES

Dale Fredriks, Writer

Students at Biola come from all over the world to complete their academics at arguably one of the United States’ premier Christian institutions of higher education. In addition to the academics, the athletics program attracts athletes who fly extraordinary distances in order to call themselves Eagles.

Foreign dominance

Biola’s basketball team provides a few excellent examples of this, as the roster contains two players in particular who traveled a long way to attend school in La Mirada, Calif.

Sophomore forward Alex Talma originally hails from Auckland, New Zealand, a total of 6,500 miles or 13-hour flight away. He comes from a family of five, with his two parents and younger brother and sister. Talma is a huge presence on the court, standing 6’8” and weighing 245 pounds, and he mentioned that his whole family is tall as well.

“I started playing basketball at the age of 10 years old. I was just a little guy,” Talma said. “The reason why I got into playing basketball was because I was always the tallest guy in class, so people just kind of gave me a basketball and I started playing.”

After finishing high school in New Zealand, Talma had to take a 14-month break from basketball after having surgery for injuries to both his ankles. After recovering from the injury, Talma decided to play semi-professional basketball in order to get exposure to hopefully come to America to play basketball.

He got recruited by Texas A&M International in Laredo, Texas, but had to wait a year until he was eligible to play. So he red-shirted last year, but after one semester decided Texas was not for him, and found his way to Biola to play under head coach Dave Holmquist.

Joining Talma as the other international player is junior forward Steve Herve, who grew up in Cameroon, Africa. Herve has Talma beaten in the distance-traveled department, as his home country sits about 8,100 miles away or 18 hours by airplane.

How they defend

Herve has a large family as well, with his two parents and four older siblings. His father used to be a professional soccer player in Cameroon, which is the sport that Herve grew up playing. About two years before he came to the United States to finish high school, he picked up basketball and fell in love with the sport.

He attended Renaissance Academy in Altadena, Calif. for his junior and senior years of high school, and at first did not know any English, as the native language of Cameroon is French. He picked up the language quickly, and immediately started receiving interest for his basketball skills. He got recruited by Biola in his junior year and made the decision to commit to playing for coach Holmquist’s squad.

This year, with Talma and Herve on the roster, the team sits at 6-0 on the season so far, a fantastic start that has the team fired up after winning the Golden State Athletic Conference championship last year with an overall record of 30-4.

“Our strength for our team is how we defend,” Herve said. “Having the same guys coming back and knowing what our team is about is something that makes us strong again.”

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