SHOALHAVEN Tigers product Darcy Harding and his NBL1 All-Stars team recently returned home from Thailand with an extra piece of luggage, after winning the World Basketball Invitation Tournament.
To prepare for the tournament, the All-Stars played two warm-up matches on home soil - an 88-66 loss to the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions before an 83-82 win against Shanxi Dragons.
"It was good to have a couple of games before we left for Thailand as we had never played together before as a group," Harding said.
"Obviously having some training sessions and a bit more experience together would have been ideal but we were able to gel pretty quickly and get the job done.
"As a group, it's hard to be confident that we will win the tournament, as we had no idea what the competition was going to be like.
"In saying that, we all had confidence in each other that we would do as well as we could - we had a great group of players in our squad."
Harding and his team opened their campaign in Thailand with a convincing 84-64 win against Swarm Basketball Club (United States) before losing to Hi-Tech Bangkok City BC (Thailand) 83-50 in game two.
Game three was against Tobol BC (Kazakhstan), which the All-Star won 90-65 - to set-up a semi-final showdown with Kalleh BC (Iran), which they won 85-70.
This victory set up a rematch with Hi-Tech Bangkok City BC in the final - the only team that had defeated Harding's All-Stars in the tournament.
"The first time we played Hi-Tech, the game was over in the first half - we fought hard to come back but they had just got the jump on us too early," Harding said.
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"They were Thailand's best professional team and had a lot of experience playing together.
"When it came time to play them in the final, we knew a little more about them and we were a lot more prepared - this time we got the jump on them early.
"We knew it had to start with our defence and putting pressure on them early, which led to us getting some easy buckets.
"We finally hit some shots as well, it was about time because as a group we hadn't been shooting the ball well.
"We blew them out early and maintained the lead with confidence, to secure the trophy (80-62)."
As successful as Harding's team was, it was not the former Sydney Kinds development player's strongest tournament on the hardwood.
"I honestly didn't have a great tournament - I was just coming off a week off due to a throat infection and then ended up getting the gastro bug the first day and had to miss the opening game," he said.
"Then two minutes into the second game I rolled my ankle, so I was on the back foot from the get-go.
"I managed to keep playing and fill a role, which is fine as every team needs that guy to play solid defence, chase down an offensive rebound and set good screens.
"Definitely was one of my worst performances individually though."
After briefly returning to the South Coast to recharge his batteries, the 25-year-old, who spent the season with Diamond Valley in the NBL1, has already set his sights on playing in more international tournaments.
"Next for me is a trip to Malaysia in October, where I'll be playing for ACBA (Australian Chinese Basketball Association)," he said.
"It looks like we have a really solid team going over and I expect to do pretty well playing against a number of professional teams.
"Outside of that, it's just training as much as possible in the off-season and figuring out where my next basketball opportunity is."