Rising Kiwi basketballer Taane Samuel is ready to hit the ground running in his debut professional season in Australia.
The 22-year-old is signed to a one-year deal with Brisbane Bullets in the ANBL as a development player, after a breakthrough season with Wellington Saints in the NZ league.
But COVID-19 delayed his departure across the ditch, forcing his new club to intervene.
"Everything just went south when quarantine happened," Samuel tells Newshub. "All the flights got cancelled, borders were closed, and then I went four weeks trying to look for a flight and nothing happened.
"The team ended up getting a chartered flight, that's how I got over here."
Samuel will complete his two-week mandatory isolation in Brisbane on Thursday.
The towering power forward was influential in the capital-based side's NBL championship-winning campaign, finishing with 26 points to help secure their seventh title in 12 years.
Samuel praises Saints coach Zico Coronel for getting him to where he is now.
"He helped me a lot. He had a big part to play in my development as a player, and my development of my IQ in the game and my basketball skills.
"I feel like I've come a long way from how I used to play and he helped me rediscover a passion for the game that was almost dwindling over time."
The Scots College product now has the chance to live out a childhood dream, when the Australian NBL season begins in December.
"Honestly, since I was a kid, I really wanted to take basketball to the professional level."
"It is a dream come true, to be honest, it's pretty big time for me."
"I'm really just trying to push the ceiling as high as I can and make a name for myself in this league, because it's definitely one of the best in the world and I just really aim to open more doorways for my career."
One of those doorways hopefully would lead to a call-up for the Tall Blacks, after representing New Zealand at age-group level.
"I'm really aiming to play for the Tall Blacks, if not this year, then next year, but everything's definitely taken a bit of a step back due to the COVID situation, so we can't really play too many international games or whatnot," he notes.