Sammy's Life in Israel: Part 1

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: Oct. 24, 2012

Characterizing the last eight months as a roller-coaster for Phoenix Mercury guard Sammy Prahalis would be an understatement.

In March, she was a college student playing for Ohio State University.

In April, she became starting point guard for the two-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury.

In June, she was selected as the WNBA’s Rookie of the Month.

Now, in October, after a grueling first season in the WNBA, she’s halfway across the world playing professionally for Maccabi Ramat Hen in Israel.

Needless to say, life seems to get more interesting by the minute for Prahalis.

Several times per month during the off-season, we’ll catch up with the 2012 WNBA All-Rookie Team member to chronicle her adventures overseas. We’ll also have Styles P answer questions from the X-Factor. If you would like to ask Prahalis a question about her overseas life, send us an email and we’ll pick one for her to answer in each entry.

Part 1: Watch Out For Stray Cats

PhoenixMercury.com – You’ve obviously had an incredibly busy year. Now, you’re faced with quickly adjusting to life in a foreign country. How are things going in Israel so far?

Sammy Prahalis – Yeah, these past eight months have been very busy but also very fun. So far, Israel has been a little bit of a culture shock [laughs]. I get a little confused at times since most things are in Hebrew and when walking down the street or in a store I don’t really know what anyone is saying. However, I feel very lucky because most people do speak English as their second language and they’ve all been very welcoming.

PhoenixMercury.com – Are you in an apartment or team housing?

Sammy Prahalis – I am living in basically a hotel not far from where we play. It is kind of like a country club so we have a gym, basketball court, tennis court, a pool and a spa which is nice to go to on days off or if we have down time.

PhoenixMercury.com – What about the surrounding area? Is it busy? Are there many things to do?

Sammy Prahalis – My surrounding area is pretty busy; there are people always walking on the streets. I usually will go about two blocks up and go to a little area to eat outside. There are a lot of corner stores which is nice when I want something quick. I am also lucky because two blocks the other way there is a park with a nice circular path to walk, jog and hangout out. There is also an outdoor restaurant and ice cream place [laughs].

PhoenixMercury.com – Have you been able to stay in touch with your Mercury teammates?

Sammy Prahalis – Yes, I have talked to a few teammates. I spoke with DB [DeWanna Bonner] and KT [Krystal Thomas]. They are both doing well. It’s nice to have teammates who have been overseas and can help me out a little with what to expect and how to get through days when I’m feeling homesick. I’ve also spoken with Charde [Houston] who is also in Israel. I’m lucky to have her only about 20 minutes from me. I hope to see her soon and also will be playing her team during the season.

PhoenixMercury.com – It’s still early, but have you noticed any differences in the style of play over there?

Sammy Prahalis – So far, the differences between overseas and the WNBA is that [in Israel] they love to play super fast and more physical on the wings and on-the-ball defending. For me, it’s not a huge difference because in Phoenix we play really fast. However, I think as I play my first few games I will find more differences between the two.

PhoenixMercury.com – You’ve only been there for a few days, but anytime someone ventures into another country and culture, humorous things are bound to happen. Any funny stories to share?

Sammy Prahalis – I haven't had any really funny stories yet, but walking down the streets there are a lot of stray animals, especially cats. I’d say at least three times a day I jump because they pop up out of nowhere and scare me [laughs].

PhoenixMercury.com – This week’s fan question was submitted by Dani in Phoenix, AZ: “I love you, Sammy! What was your favorite part about playing for the Mercury this past season?”

Sammy Prahalis – Hi, Dani – love you, too! My favorite part about being with the Mercury this season was meeting and becoming friends with some great people. I think even despite losing some games we still had fun. As the season went on and I got to know the girls and staff better, it made it even more fun. Having had one season with the Mercury, I realize that this organization is special and it’s awesome to be a part of it.

Check back soon for another “Sammy’s Life in Israel” entry.