EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon junior guard Micaela Cocks has spent her spring semester playing with the New Zealand Women’s National team as the Tall Ferns prepare for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Throughout the summer, GoDucks.com will be catching up with Micaela to find out about her time touring the globe and playing with the national team.

The team recently finished a near two-week tour of Europe, playing six games in 10 days, and finishing the stretch with a 2-4 record.

As Micaela makes her case for a spot on the national team, we caught up with her to ask some questions about the team’s trip to Europe.

GoDucks: What has your schedule been like since returning to New Zealand after the winter term to train with the national team?

Micaela Cocks: We have had a very busy schedule since I left Eugene at the beginning of April. I went straight from America to Canberra, where we had a training camp and two friendly games against Australia. After that it was off to the Good Luck Beijing tournament in China, where I was lucky enough to play some of the best teams in the world, including the United States, Australia (who we beat for the first time in history), China, Cuba and Korea. We have just returned from a short tour of Europe, and next up is a camp in Christchurch and a home series. Then depending on team selection, its off to the Olympics.

GD: In your most recent trip to Europe, what was it like to travel and play six games in such a short span of time?

MC: Traveling to the other side of the world is tough, but its something athletes at this level have to be able to deal with. We have a very knowledgeable medical staff which gives us all the tools and treatment so we can be ready when its gametime. It is also about being mentally strong and not letting the tough circumstances get the best of you.

GD: Did you have any off time to see any sites in either Spain or the Czech Republic?

MC: We did get some of our own time to look around Madrid. Jess (McCormack) and I walked the local streets and found an interesting pastry shop, and experienced the local life of Madrid. In Valencia, we went swimming in the Mediterranean Sea that was my favorite. The beach was just like the pictures of the typical European beaches I loved it. In Prague, we went to the castle, and it was amazing. The buildings are so historic and stunning to look at. I would love to go back and see more of Prague.

GD: What experience do you think the team gained from the games in Spain and the Czech Republic?

MC: Its very important to play the European-style teams as we will most likely be facing one of these teams at the Olympics. We have played a lot of teams from Asia, and to be able to play a European style which is very different, is vital for our growth as a team.

GD: So what is up next for you and the national team?

MC: Next is a two-hour move down south to Christchurch where we will have a mini camp with fitness testing and training sessions. The team will live together and eventually head to the Olympics during late July.

RECAP OF NEW ZEALAND’S EUROPEAN TOUR

The Tall Ferns were in Spain for the majority of their stay, kicking off the tour with a 63-55 victory over Angola in Madrid on May 28. Two days later, New Zealand suffered a 77-58 loss to Spain, despite 18 points from guard Angela Marino. Spain entered the contest ranked fifth in the world after finishing as the runner up at the 2007 European Championships.

Just a day later, the Tall Ferns traveled to Valencia and lost a 71-67 heartbreaker to Japan, the 15th-ranked team in the world. Again it was Marino leading the way the 18 points, while Stanford’s Jillian Harmon added 10 points.

On June 2, New Zealand returned to Madrid and the win column with a 69-60 victory over Angola. Several players reached double figures for the Tall Ferns, led by Marino with 12, and Cocks contributing 11.

Cocks continued to find the basket for New Zealand, scoring a game-high nine points in a 72-51 loss to the Czech Republic on June 4 in Zlin.

In a second game with the Czech Republic on June 5 in Luhacovice, again New Zealand struggled in a 73-46 loss.

The Tall Ferns are expected to return to New Zealand to continue to train throughout July and hope to bring in an Olympic-qualifying team for a domestic series.

New Zealand has been drawn into Pool B for the 2008 Olympics, with its first game scheduled for Aug. 9, against Mali. China and the United States are also in New Zealand’s pool.