Work Samples

California Native Adjusts To Polish League

April 22, 2023

By David Driver
Used with permission

WARSAW, POLAND - After finishing his college career at UC Riverside two years ago, Oakland native Arinze Chidom hoped to begin his pro hoop career in the G-League.

"But it didn't work out," said Chidom, whose first college stop was at Washington State.

Among other challenges: Chidom dealt with some injury issues as he tried to get his pro days underway.

So the 6-foot-9 forward checked with his agency, Wasserman out of California, who found a team for him to play for in Poland.

"I really didn't know where Poland was," admitted Chidom, following a game on April 20 here in Warsaw.

In that contest, Chidom scored seven of his 14 points in the first quarter to help lead Walbrzych past Polonia 89-79 before a few hundred fans at an arena in a residential neighborhood in northwest Warsaw.

That gave his top-seeded team a sweep of the best-of-3 series against Polonia, which finished eighth in regular-season play in 1 Liga - the second-best league in the Poland pro ranks.

Chidom averaged about 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game during the season and was named the league MVP. He was the only American on the playoff roster, while the only American for Polonia was Phoenix native Sammy Barnes-Thompkins, who began his college career at Boston College and ended up at a Division II school in New Mexico.

Chidom made trips to London and The Netherlands as a tourist in the past. But that didn't quite prepare him for life as a pro overseas.

"It is my first professional year," says Chidom, who adds there have been adjustments on and off the court.

He plays in the city of Walbrzych, in southwest Poland and near the border with the Czech Republic. Former NFL kicker Sebastian Janikowski was born in the city of about 108,000 before he moved to Florida.

He went to Bishop O'Dowd High, the alma mater of former Major League pitchers Tyson and Joe Ross. The Catholic school in Oakland has produced several pro athletes, including former Washington Nationals player Jeff Kobernus. Joe Ross also played for the Nationals.