Hello Chicago Sky fans!
It’s been a while since the last time I blogged. I’m writing this with less than a month until training camp. You can’t imagine how excited and ready I am to be back in America and playing basketball. It’s been a long eight months and I am ready to get back home, for sure!
One thing that’s changed about me since the last time I blogged is my arm. My right arm is officially full of tattoos. During last summer in Chicago I got a half sleeve, and now I have a full sleeve with a bunch of different stuff on it. I have a lot of emotions and I like to express them through tattoos. For example, both my parents are cancer survivors. My mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor and my dad is a prostate cancer survivor. So I got the cancer logo tattooed. It was a significant time in my life when my parents were battling with this. It really impacted my life in so many ways, so I felt strongly about getting this. Another tattoo I got was Banksy’s famous contemporary art piece of the little girl letting the balloon go. And the string to the balloon says “sometimes you need to let things go.” For me this was something I’ve always wanted as a tattoo and I don’t know why I waited so long to get it. It’s a constant reminder to simply let things go instead of putting unnecessary negative energy into them. Certain situations I’ve wasted a lot of time on when I could have let them go. Whether it has to do with my personal life or on-the-court stuff, it’s a great reminder for me. I could sit here all day and give an explanation for every tattoo I’ve gotten in the last eight months, but I won’t! Instead I will switch gears to more on-court stuff.
The past couple of months have been really good. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from this year and I know it will help me this summer in Chicago. My team finished the regular season in first place, which was huge! We started playoffs yesterday actually. The Spanish League only allows the top four teams to compete in playoffs. Number 1 plays 4, number 2 plays 3 in a best-of-three series. Last night we won our first game by 20 points.
If we win again on Saturday, we will advance to the finals and most likely play against the reigning champions of last year, Girona. Playoffs are a time of the year that every player plays for (at least, they should, in my opinion). Everything that has happened until now is in the past and this is truly a new season. You give everything to the remaining games and hopefully come out as champions. I’m so excited to see what we do and what the outcome will be. So everyone cross your fingers that I come back to Chicago with a championship, please!!
There’s nothing like the WNBA and the wonderful city of Chicago, so I am very excited to get back and start training camp. There is definitely a countdown. Thank you for reading and I hope to see everyone very soon!
Posted on March 31, 2016
Un Dia Con Jacki Gemelos – A Day with Jacki Gemelos!
Jacki Gemelos gives fans an inside look into a typical day in Salamanca, Spain. Take a look at what gets Jacki through her long days!
Posted on February 25, 2016
It’s amazing how fast time flies!
I remember writing my first blog back in early October like it was last week or something. Now here I am, and it’s almost February! In this blog, I really want to share my experience on the court versus outside things. This season has taught me a lot, so far. I’ve learned to evolve my game in different areas because that’s what has been needed of me here with Avenida. When I first came to this team I thought I would have the standard role of most American players – SCORE. In my past overseas experiences that’s what it was. Being a part of a EuroLeague team is very similar to the WNBA in terms of every player on the roster can score. Of course, my scoring abilities are an asset to the team, but creating for others, rebounding and playing good defense every night is something I’ve started to take more pride in. This is a smart league. Being able to make basketball reads offensively and defensively is key. I feel I’ve learned so much in that sense.
My basketball situation has been unique. In college I only got to play in 57 games and I was there for 6 years. All the time I spent in the training room rehabbing my knee, I was taken away from the game and simple things you learn in college. For example, fighting over a screen, or icing the pick and roll, or bumping a cutter. These are just some things I missed but there are lots more. The past three years that I’ve been healthy have been such a learning experience for me. I’ve learned how much more there is to basketball than just scoring. You don’t have to be considered a great player solely off your scoring abilities. It’s about sacrificing parts of your game for the betterment of the team. Don’t get me wrong though. Being a threat offensively is important and a tool you must have at the WNBA and EuroLeague level; it just doesn’t hurt to have back up skills in case the ball isn’t going down one night.
My team is in a really good position right now. We just signed WNBA veteran Alana Beard. For me it’s an honor to have someone I can learn so much from that’s been around the game for so long. She makes practices more competitive and her positive attitude and vocal leadership is impeccable to this team.
We have moved our way to sixth place in EuroLeague, which means if we stay at sixth place we qualify for EuroCup which is what we want! The top four teams go to EuroLeague Final Four. The fifth and sixth-place teams get to compete in EuroCup. And seventh and eighth place are done. So with two more games left, I think we have a great shot at sustaining sixth place.
As far as Spanish League goes, we are number one in the league. Next week we compete in the Spanish Cup Final Four. Our first game will be against Girona which happens to be another EuroLeague team in the Spanish league. So it’ll be a tough first game but I think we have a good chance to win the ‘Cup! Things are starting to get exciting with the ‘Cup and playoffs right around the corner. Before I know it, I’ll be on a flight back to Chicago to start training camp. And we all know how exciting that will be.
Anyways I hope everyone enjoyed my update and I didn’t bore you with only talking about basketball. I mean that’s what we’re all here for right?! 🙂 Stay tuned for my next blog thanks!!!
Posted on January 29, 2016
Happy New Year Everyone!
I hope the holidays treated you as good as they did me. I was able to spend six days with my family and close friends in Stockton, California where I was born and raised. I had the most amazing time. Yes it was short-lived but I appreciated ALMOST every second. I’ll explain the “almost” later on.
After our victory against the second best team in our league on the evening of the 19th, I drove straight to Madrid for my flight out to California. In my head I planned on every restaurant I wanted to go to while I was home. All my favorites. And I succeeded above and beyond! As most of you already know, I had an obsession with Portillo’s when I was living in Chicago. Hot dogs are my favorite food. So naturally my favorite hot dog place was first on my list. Let me tell you, I enjoyed every bite of two, not one, huge chili cheese dogs and could barely move for the rest of the day. Well worth it though.
When I’m home I enjoy working out with my high school trainer, going on my 2.5 mile run around my neighborhood, spending time at the house with my family, and eating at all our favorite restaurants. Wow, I sound like all I live for is food. Sort of. But yes these are my favorite parts about being home. My short-lived trip was really special this time because I was able to go to San Francisco and enjoy the city for the day. It’s about one hour from where I live so I don’t always make it to the Bay Area. But this time I made a great day of it. I went to fisherman’s wharf where you can take a ferry boat to Alcatraz and see the old prison, did a mirror maze and went into the wax museum. They had a Rihanna wax figure and that was my highlight; I am obsessed with her. Then I drove to the Golden Gate Bridge to see the amazing view on such a nice, sunny day. It was beautiful. And then I drove down Lombard Street, which is the street that curls all the way down where my best friend Asha’s job is to visit her before I drove back to Stockton. It was a full day fulfilled with so many wonderful things.
Christmas Day was really special for me. My sister Johnna is in her third year of residency at Scripts Hospital in San Diego. You can imagine how busy she always is with her work schedule. And I am playing basketball year-round, so when we are both home together it’s really special for our family. We had Christmas dinner and sat around the fire all day talking and laughing. And at the end of the night we went to see the movie Creed. Overall, it was a magical day.
Of course, it had to come to an end and this is where the “almost” plays a factor in my trip. My flight was from Sacramento to Dallas and then Dallas to Madrid. My first flight to Dallas took off an hour late and when we were in the air the plane had to reroute to Austin because of the weather conditions in Dallas. When we landed in Dallas we were stuck on the tarmac for almost six hours with no food or water. It was terrible. When we finally got to Dallas I obviously missed my connection to Madrid so I spent the night in Dallas and had to fly out the next day at 1:30 p.m. to Miami where I would then catch my flight from Miami to Madrid. Again, my flight in Dallas was delayed four hours so when I arrived in Miami I missed my connecting flight to Madrid, again, so I spent the night in Miami. I had a wonderful morning in Miami where I was able to go on a run on South Beach and have a nice breakfast before catching my flight at 5 p.m. That flight was on time and I finally made it to Madrid three days late. It was the craziest travel ever! But I’m not going to lie; spending the night in Miami wasn’t all that bad.
Now that we are in the New Year, I hope everyone fulfills their New Year’s resolutions and has an awesome year. I know it will be a special one for the Chicago Sky. Take care Sky family and I’ll be back!! 🙂
Posted on January 4, 2016
Hello again from Spain!
It’s December and that means Christmas is right around the corner. Something I love about Spain is how festive they are with their holidays. They started to decorate the town before Thanksgiving. For an American playing overseas, it’s really nice to feel the holiday spirit so far from home. I have already decorated my apartment with a baby tree, lights on the balcony, and cute stuff around the place. It makes me feel happy coming home every day from practice or long road trips.
Unfortunately, Spain doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving but that doesn’t mean our team didn’t. We had a really nice dinner where everyone prepared something. It was amazing. We had chicken (because a big turkey wasn’t possible), mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, a lot of different Spanish dishes, tomatoes with mozzarella, fruit salad, and desserts! Guess what I made?! The fruit salad. I’m not much of a cook so I took charge of the easiest thing. But I’m a really good cutter, so my fruit salad was layered and really pretty. And of course delicious!
Basketball has given me the opportunity to see so many parts of the world. I think that’s one of my favorite things about my profession. Even though right now, traveling in Europe kind of makes me nervous because of all the things going on, it’s really amazing how lucky I am to get to see so much of the world. This week I was in Istanbul. It was a place I’ve never been to but I’ve heard a lot about it from other girls who have played there. It reminded me of Athens, where I played my first season overseas. There was a lot going on, to say the least. The traffic made Chicago traffic seem like a cake walk! But for me, I like to feel my surroundings are constantly alive. So I didn’t mind it so much. One thing I’ll never forget about Turkey was how we got to the game. Because of the traffic, we had an ambulance escort the bus to the game so we could beat the traffic better. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. And I found out that all Turkish teams on game days follow an ambulance van to games. For me, that was shocking but somewhat cool.
Right now we have five games left before Christmas break. I am looking forward to hopefully winning all five games so my time back home can be really enjoyable. I am so excited to be with my family and spend the holidays together. I only have five full days with them, but I am looking forward to every minute.
I hope I got some of you into the Christmas spirit! It’s been really nice writing these blogs and sharing my experiences with you. Take care everyone and you’ll be hearing from me again soon!!
Posted on December 11, 2015
I feel like so much has happened since the last time I checked in. The season has been going well, my team remains number one in the Spanish League. We have struggled a bit in the EuroLeague but things are about to take a turn for the better. I can feel it. Last week we played against Allie’s team. She was amazing of course, and we fell short by five points. It was a good game though.
Teams in Europe are currently on a break right now so a lot of girls got to go home and some of us explored Europe a bit. As for me I went back to the motherland, Greece! It was amazing. I got to see all my friends and some of my family. We got to go up and see the Acropolis and walk around the center area where so many cool historic monuments are. Greece is like my second home. The team I played for Panathinaikos is the biggest club in Greece and I still remain close with the organization. So it’s always nice to be back. Not to mention Greek food can get you in serious trouble. I’m constantly trying to watch what I eat because it’s so easy in Europe with all the bread and cheese to really lose yourself. But there is no way I was going to Greece and not having my favorite restaurant, Thenasis. The meat wrapped in pita bead cooked in oil and butter with a seasoning that tastes like Lawry’s seasoning salt stuffed with French fries. Who does that? A girl has to have a cheat day every once in a while. I was in heaven. And the coffee in Greece is so good too. Probably was having 3 coffee’s a day out there.
After a nice three-day vacation in Europe I got back to Salamanca and began practicing. Luckily I get to celebrate my birthday on our off day. Today! November 22. Team Sagittarius. I’m really into these zodiac signs and I take pride in being a sag. The rumor is that we are adventurous, stubborn, like to shop, real, genuine… Should I keep going? No I’ll stop there. But for my birthday I am going to visit a town near Salamanca called Avila. When I was driving home from Madrid one night I saw this huge wall that looked like it was going forever. So I looked into the city and it looked pretty cool so I figured I would go have a nice lunch and check it out for the day.
Overall, I’m really enjoying being in Europe and having all these experiences in all these different places. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to share it all with the Sky fans too. Makes me feel like I’m still connected to the team even being so far away. I really look forward to all my upcoming adventures so I can share with you all again. Thank you for staying tuned!!
Posted on November 22, 2015
First and foremost I hope everyone is doing great and missing the WNBA season just as much as I am. The Finals were entertaining; it’s always nice to see it go all the way to Game 5. Makes it more interesting. I couldn’t help but picture us the whole time but the two teams who made it this year did well and represented professional women’s basketball.
Currently I am on my way home from Sopron, Hungary. We had our third EuroLeague game of the season last night and fell short by 5 points. We came back from a 21-point deficit at their home court and managed to get up by three within the last four minutes of the game. It was really competitive, but unfortunately we couldn’t come home with the win. We are now 1-2. Last week we beat a good team from France at our home court. It was a huge win. They won the EuroCup last year and are one of the top teams in France. So far my experience in the EuroLeague has been good. It’s tough, every team is good, and every player can play. It’s a league where everyone is smart and plays with their head. In America, everyone is so skilled and athletic. The game is different in Europe but I’m learning a lot and I think it will translate well when I get back to America.
The Spanish League has been good. We are beating teams by a lot because that’s what we are suppose to do. If I had to compare the Italian League to Spanish League, I would say they are very similar. They are fast and play really hard. They fight until the last second of the game so it keeps it competitive. I’m also enjoying playing in the Spanish League and continuing to build up my confidence.
Outside of the basketball court I have been able to go and visit Madrid and see a little bit of the city, finally. Of course I found a tattoo shop and a guy who speaks really good English so that was a plus too! I did some shopping in the city center and that was really good. They had TopShop, Nike, Foot Locker, and some really good European stores I like. Oh and the food!! Well, I guess I’ll let everyone in on a little secret. I use to eat really bad in college. Fast food was a regular thing for me. Taco Bell was my favorite. I stumbled across one in Madrid and couldn’t walk away. It was the highlight of my day and there’s a high possibility I will drive back there just for that. Living in Europe for eight months out of the year, you learn to enjoy these things because it’s not everyday you see ‘The Bell’ in Europe. Starbucks was another highlight of my trip too. The seasonal Pumpkin Spice latte is my favorite so I grabbed one of those, too. I guess we can call my Madrid trip my cheat day. But all in all, Madrid was beautiful. I saw the Royal Palace of Madrid, which was pretty neat. And I couldn’t have asked for better weather.
My time in Spain has been pleasant both on and off the court. I am looking forward to seeing how the team progresses now that we have our full roster together. We were waiting on Tricia Liston to arrive from Minnesota. She was the last piece to the puzzle, so I am really looking forward to seeing what this team can do.
Lastly, I just wanted to thank everyone who is reading this and the people who care enough to follow my journey here in Spain. Blogging for the Chicago Sky fans is an honor for me and I will do my best to keep you updated with my life and progress for the remaining time I’m here. Missing the family everyday but keeping you all in my heart out here! Until next time…adios!
Posted on November 2, 2015
Chicago Sky Fans!
First off, I just want to say how grateful I am for the fans that stuck by our side through the good and bad this past season. We always felt the support and it wouldn’t have been the same if you weren’t a part of our journey. The season didn’t end the way we wanted, nor expected but there were a lot of things to be grateful for and YOU were one of them.
With that being said I want to share my experience with you during my time in Salamanca, Spain! I arrived here only 2 weeks ago and I feel like I have done so much in such a short time. Practices twice a day, and 3 games so far. My team Avenida has been the top team in Spain for some time now, and that’s why they are also in EuroLeague. I’ll explain. Once a week (usually Saturday’s), we play our Spanish league game and every Wednesday we play our EuroLeague game. So we travel throughout Europe for that. For instance, I’m writing this as we are about to land in Budapest Hungary. From there we will bus another 4 hours to Slovakia. The travel is tough but this is some of the best competition in the world and something I’ve been waiting for.
The process leading up to this point in my career has been crazy. But everything seems to be working out slowly but surely. My first year overseas in Athens, Greece was a perfect league for my first full season after all my ACL injuries. I even got my Greek citizenship, thanks to the help of my old club Panathinaikos because my father is Greek and played in Athens for 5 years. Ironically, the first game I played in was against his team, Sporting. The following overseas team I played for was in Umbertide, Italy. This was another perfect stepping stone for me in my career. I had the top coach in Italy push me everyday and help prepare me for the next level. The Italian league was a step up from Greece and we even got to play against a Euroleague team, Schio, three times that season. Toward the end of that season is when I signed to play with Salamanca! My first EuroLeague offer!! I was so excited because I knew after my WNBA season with Chicago I would get to continue to play amongst the best competition in the world and get better for the following upcoming WNBA season. The European game is different from the WNBA but it translates well and prepares you to perform at your highest level.
I haven’t had much time to sight see yet but I am looking forward to it as Salamanca is beautiful. The Plaza Mayor, which is the main center, is amazing. I got to do some shopping of course, and tried a few good restaurants and coffee shops. This town has everything you need. A basketball court, good shopping, good grocery stores, and great coffee! This is all I need to be happy. I can’t wait until I have a free day to go and see Madrid. That’s a place I want to see a few times and really get to know. I think I will make this happen on my next day off.
For now, I need a nap before my first EuroLeague game against Kocise Slovakia. The Americans on that team are Crystal Langhorne (Seattle Storm) and Shenise Johnson (Indiana Fever) who isn’t here yet because of the WNBA Finals. I hope everyone enjoyed hearing about my short experience so far in Spain and I can’t wait to update you again in a couple of weeks! Hopefully I’ll have some good stories about us winning some big games out here! With that being said… #10forourtown #ChicagoSky #Livingthedream #Allaboard #MissingmySkyfam
Posted on October 14, 2015