Professional basketball player and University of Washington alumna, Amber Melgoza, is now in her second season playing basketball overseas. Melgoza is currently playing for Embutidos Pajariel Bembibre PDM in Bembibre, Spain, and she said the team is a good fit for her.
Melgoza started her career off in Battipaglia, Italy with Polisportiva Battipagliese. Although Melgoza liked Italy and enjoyed her first season overseas, she wanted to go to a different country. She said that Spain had more of an American playing style and that there was a lot of competition that was aggressive, and that was why she signed with Embutidos Pajariel Bembibre PDM.
“It was my second year and I wanted to try something new, and I thought that Spain would be a good fit for me, which it is and it's going well,” Melgoza said. “They knew that I was a scorer, so they put me in good positions to be a scorer out here.”
The relationships Melgoza has built with her teammates and coaches continue to grow. Melgoza said the bond that she has with her teammates is a sisterhood and she feels lucky to have that experience. Her coach pushes her and the rest of the team daily and constantly gives the team advice to help develop them throughout the season. Melgoza is grateful for her relationships and for the opportunity to play the game she grew up loving.
My favorite part [about playing overseas is] being able to play a game that [I] love and [do what I have] always [dreamt] about when [I was] a little girl, to play professional basketball. Now I'm finally doing it, and [I am] able to play and travel the world,” Melgoza said. “Like that's literally my job, to play and travel the world. I think that's just an amazing thing, and I'm so grateful that I had this opportunity to do that.”
Playing overseas is completely different from playing ball in the states, including the different cultures, different languages and different styles of play. The biggest difference to Melgoza is not being around her loved ones. She said her first year overseas was difficult, but she took any time she had to FaceTime her family and continued to stay grateful for the opportunity she had.
“For me, [the biggest difference] I think [is] not playing in front of my family and not having familiar faces. You know, it's a big cultural shock for me, especially [because with] my family and University Washington, every single game my parents were there and they traveled to wherever [the games were.] They were [always] there in the stands,” Melgoza said.
Throughout her time overseas, Melgoza said that she has grown as an individual. She has grown on and off the court mentally and has learned how to be independent and how to help herself.
“I think one of the main things [I learned] as a player and just as a person in general, is to always believe in yourself,” Melgoza said. “I feel like you can get caught up over here a lot because, you know, you could have a bad game and you can go back home and you just think about your game all the time.”
Additionally, Melgoza was given the opportunity to grow both mentally and physically in her game when she met and worked out with Unlimited Potential Basketball’s Coach Packie Turner this past summer in Santa Barbara. Melgoza and Coach Packie trained together at the P3 Peak Performance Project facility when Coach Packie was training and preparing basketball players for the 2021 NBA Draft.
Melgoza said that she and Coach Packie worked on her being a more consistent shooter and they added details in her game. Now overseas, she is able to play against and break down the best defenders that are guarding her, and she is able to use her strength and get more combo moves in to score different ways on the court. Melgoza said that she and Coach Packie instantly formed a strong relationship during their summer of working out together.
“[Coach Packie is] so smart and he can break down your game and knows exactly what to say for your mind to click,” Melgoza said. “I think having a coach and a trainer to be able to break down your game and have that personal connection… It was good. Right away I trusted him [and] everything he said.”
Bembibre is 4-8 so far this season. In 12 games, Melgoza is averaging 8.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.5 assists. Melgoza and Embutidos Pajariel Bembibre PDM defeated Gernika on December 11th 73-57 and will travel to Madrid on Saturday December 18th to take on CB Estudiantes.
The team and Melgoza will be preparing for the game in hopes to improve their record, and Melgoza will continue to work hard and continue improving her own skills in the game she loves.
“Basketball is something that I've been playing forever. I'm a very competitive and passionate person. It's something that I just love and have so much passion for, and I just want to keep getting myself better, and it's a part of me, it's happiness,” Melgoza said. “I get to play overseas, travel the world and you know, hopefully, I'll make my way into the states, that's definitely my goal.”
Smith has been with UPB for a few weeks now and is helping with group training and private training. He said he has enjoyed seeing the variety of different athletes that come into the gym from division I college basketball players all the way down to three year olds. He said group training has been his favorite part so far, being able to interact with a lot of different athletes and helping them improve throughout the sessions.