Boomers: Matt Nielsen the rocker

Boomers: Matt Nielsen the rocker

VALENCIA -- Take a stroll through the beautiful El Carmen district of Valencia, or down the busy Calle Colon, and you're likely to hear a Spanish song or two, FIBA writes.

In the changing rooms of La Fonteta, though, where the city's ACB team Power Electronic Valencia plays its home games, you’re more likely to hear the sound of electric guitars from Down Under.

That's because Matt Nielsen, the hirsute Australia international, is a power forward with the team and his taste in music is probably a little different to most in the city.

"I love rock music," Nielsen says, "especially Australian rock, like Gyroscope."

Rock solid is a good way to describe the play of Nielsen, the Boomers’ captain at the Beijing Olympics.

He will be with the Aussies this year at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

Australia will take on Argentina, Serbia, Germany, Angola and Jordan in Preliminary Round Group A.

For now, Nielsen is plying his trade in Valencia and enjoying every minute of it.

"My family has adapted well to Valencia," he says.

"We feel very happy here. The boys go to a great school and life is great. I am very happy to be here."

And when he's feeling a little homesick, it's not hard to get into the Australian spirit because in addition to the music, there is also cyberspace.

"I love sports," he says, "and my favorite is Australian football, which is not well known here but I spend my time watching them on the internet. Go Dockers!"

One of the best things about playing basketball abroad is the culture that the players and their families have a chance to soak up.

While it might be difficult for the foreign tourist in Valencia if he doesn’t speak the local language, Spanish isn't a must in the Valencia team.

"Everyone speaks English in the locker room and that is good because we understand each other," Nielsen says.

"I am working on my Spanish but it is going slow."

Though Nielsen is fully focused on winning games with Valencia, he does think often about getting together with his good friends in the Australia squad over the summer.

They could have the makings of a very good team in Turkey with the likes of NBA big men David Andersen and Andrew Bogut and playmaker Patrick Mills, and CB Granada's swingman Joe Ingles likely to play.

In his interview with the ACB website, Nielsen says the backcourt is the biggest question mark.

"These guys are very important and we need all of them to do a good job," Nielsen says.

"We have others like Aleks Maric (Partizan Belgrade) who are doing a great job, and David Barlow. But I think the most important position will be that of point guard, because we have very tall players and in that position we have to monitor Patrick Mills' development. "