Troy Barnies returning to Estonia for 12th pro basketball season

·4 min read

Jul. 29—As Russian invaded Ukraine earlier this year, Troy Barnies was forced to leave the country and the Ukrainian professional basketball team that he played for, MBC Mykolaiv.

A few weeks later, the Auburn native found a temporary basketball home with Pärnu Sadam of the PAF Estonian-Latvian League.

He helped Pärnu Sadam win the league championship then returned to Maine for a few months.

Barnies, 33, announced Thursday that he will be heading back to Estonia in two weeks to rejoin Pärnu Sadam for his 12th season of professional basketball.

"The biggest part of coming back was the team, the management, the guys on that team," Barnies told the Sun Journal on Friday. "I got along with them right out of the gate. We had a team chemistry that I missed out on for so long. You don't win a championship if you don't work together and become brothers. Most of the guys are going back to the team, so that was a big part, as well."

Barnies said his body feels great and that he's excited to enter his 12th year as a pro.

"Everyone always says the older you get the more you'll feel it," said Barnies, who was the 2007 Mr. Maine Basketball his senior season at Edward Little High School and then played at the University of Maine. "I have those days, but ... my body still feels great. I think I've done a pretty good job taking care of myself and keeping my body at peak performance. For me, I haven't dipped a lot. I can still play at that high level. I'm going to keep this ball rolling until it stops. I am pumped about it."

Nik Caner-Medley, a Deering High School graduate who recently retired after 16 seasons professional basketball overseas, told Barnies he has some work to do.

"Funny story, I got off the phone with Nik CM yesterday, and he said, '16 years is the bar, bud. 16 years,'" Barnies said. "He just got done after 16 years and he said I was getting there. I said, 'What, now do I have a goal in my head?'

"I know it can change in a year, it's year by year, but it's nice to be up there with Nik and be playing as long as I have. It's awesome."

Along with knowing the team and enjoying his time on Pärnu Sadam last season, Barnies chose to return to the champions because the team will soon be playing in the Basketball Champions League qualifiers.

Pärnu Sadam will face Swams Gmuden of Austria in the opening round of qualifying on Sept. 21. If Barnies and Pärnu Sadam win, they will move on to the semifinals against the Bakken Bears of Denmark.

There are four qualifying groups, and the winner of each group will join the Basketball Champions League regular season.

If Pärnu Sadam does not qualify for the Basketball Champions League, it will play in the FIBA Europe Cup.

"They're going to be playing at one of the highest levels of basketball," Barnies said. "That was one of the biggest things for me. We have to win a few games to get to the regular season for that. But, having that exposure and playing internationally at a high level again was a big part of my decision."

Barnies said that while he plans on playing a full season with Pärnu Sadam, his contract dictates that he can leave for a bigger team after international play is done.

"It's a good deal for me," Barnies said. "The money isn't as high as it's been in my career before, but this exposure is good. I am 33 and I want to play at this level as long as I can. Right now, I want to take advantage of playing at this level. The stars aligned for me."

He leaves Maine for Estonia on Aug. 14 and will start training with the team soon after he arrives.

Barnies said he is proud to be playing a 12th year of professional basketball.

"I was young, trying to figure pro basketball out," Barnies said. "A lot of guys go one or two years and go and find a regular job. For me, I've had success every single year. I am actually super proud of myself because ever since college I've worked on the little things to not only maintain but improve. I am getting the best out of it.

"Everyone says you do good things and good things will happen, and I will preach that to the end of time."