Bigger goals for Galloway, Guam in ACQ return: 'We want a spot at the dinner table'
ULAANBAATAR (Mongolia) - It's quite a big dream for a small island.
But dreams don't cost a thing, as they say.
"We want a spot at the dinner table."
Jonathan Galloway and Guam have their sights set on proving that they can go toe-to-toe against some of Asia's finest after booking a return trip to the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers in the recently-concluded Pre-Qualifiers.
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"Just take it to the highest level," said the 26-year-old forward-center, when asked about his ultimate goal for the country's basketball program. "To show that an island like Guam can play with all the big dogs of Asia."
"For such a small island like us, to get to where we're at, we're looking to push it much more, playing against the powerhouses in Japan, China, the Philippines, all these big-name countries ...That's what we're looking forward to."
"We want a spot at the dinner table," Galloway added.
Guam made their way back into the Asia Cup Qualifiers right in the first day of Group F action in Ulaanbaatar, when they beat Southeast Asian contender Thailand, 75-69, in a game that went down to the final seconds.
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They would go on to win their last two matches, taking down Malaysia and hosts Mongolia, respectively. They finished the Pre-Qualifiers unscathed, as they won all of their five assignments dating back to the First Round last November.
Galloway himself was a major driving force behind the sweep.
'COMES UP OFTEN'
The 2.11 M (6'11") cager was among the Pre-Qualifiers' top performers with averages of 19.2 points and 11.6 rebounds, and the Second Round saw him submit two of his best performances of the tournament.
He was just a rebound shy of registering a rare 20-20 outing when he collected 25 and 19 in their conquest of the Thais. Two nights later, he would end up with a personal-high 24 markers and 10 boards versus the Blue Wolves.
Consistency was best exemplified by Galloway and for him, a big reason why he makes it a point to ball out every given night is his desire to help the team back to the Qualifiers, with the goal, of course, to reach the continental meet.
It could be remembered that Guam were close to qualifying to the Asia Cup, only to get edged out by Chinese Taipei by just enough aggregated points across the two games they played at the Calvo Fieldhouse in Mangilao.
Yes. They lost via aggregate.
At home, too.
"That was a lot, you know," said Galloway.
"Because that's something that comes up often. It's just hard to let something like that go, especially being so close -- so close, so close. And obviously, trying to get back to that, it's hard not to think about that. It's definitely motivation."
They have accomplished half the job, but it's surely not enough for him and the rest of the crew. "We feel like we belong. But it's not about how we feel. It's about what we do, and proving it to the world," said Galloway.
'AN ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE'
It's not just that heartbreak, though, that fuels Galloway.
For him, it's his way of showing how grateful he is to Guam for giving a 19-year-old kid a chance to represent the country -- something that he never imagined he'd do when he began playing the game back in middle school.
He made his national team debut in the 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea, and became part of history as his batch ended the nation's 36-year-old men's basketball title drought in the regional quadrennial meet.
Galloway would become a fixture in Coach EJ Calvo's squads.
"I just need to thank God for this opportunity, you know," he said.
"Coach had his speech today in the locker room just talking about gratefulness, and that really resonated with me because growing up, I never really imagined myself representing an entire island," added the California-born athlete.
"It's so, so special that the island gets to support us, my family gets to support us," Galloway continued, "and putting on that jersey is an absolute privilege -- and something that I never take for granted."
He's thankful, too, for the people who embraced him when he first came into the program, those who have become his big brothers in the team -- Tai Wesley, Earnest Ross, Jr., and Jericho Cruz, to name some.
"It's great, you know. And it's not just Tai Wesley and Earnest Ross. It's Mekeli Wesley. It's Jericho Cruz. And even some of the other guys -- JP, Jo Blas... all of the vets," said Galloway, a product of NCAA D1 school UC Irvine (2015-19).
"I came into the program at 19 years old. These were all guys who really embraced me. And now as a professional, I make sure to ask them questions. I ask Tai, I ask Earnest about their pro experiences, I ask Jericho."
"And I just really appreciate the feedback they've given me," added Galloway, who's currently playing for SAM Basketball Massagno in the Swiss Basketball League (SBL). "Definitely love and appreciate all my vets."
And there's no better way to give that love back by action.
"To get to this point, growing with everyone, is really a beautiful thing. But the job's not done yet," Galloway said. "I'm looking forward to just produce, and do what I need to do for the team. And just bringing impact."