Over the summer, Men’s Basketball took a weeklong trip to Italy. During the trip, the team played several Italian club teams and toured various Italian historical sites.

For the first few days of their journey, the ‘Jackets had the opportunity to explore Rome, seeing iconic sites including the Pantheon, the Colosseum, ands the Trevi Fountain. They also visited Vatican City, where they went on a guided tour of the Sistine Chapel.

In addition to touring and playing, the ‘Jackets collaborated to create a series of blogs detailing the excursions and experiences from each day of their trip, each written by a different player. After a day of exploring Vatican City, senior guard Jake Wittig wrote, “It was a unique experience to walk through a place with such a rich history.”

In the exciting first game of their offseason trip, the ‘Jackets played HSC Sport Roma, an under-18 Italian team. The ‘Jackets came out on top, pulling away with a sizable 57–32 win over the Italian club. While the win itself was impressive, perhaps more memorable for both teams was the exchanging of jerseys on both sides.

The following days were spent traveling to other areas around Italy, such as Cinque Terre, Monterosso, and Florence.

During their time in Florence, the ‘Jackets visited the Piazza del Duomo. They also played a second game, against Pallacanestro Don Bosco Livorno, another under-18 team. A closely contested game throughout, the ‘Jackets eventually came up just short of victory with a 5552 loss. Despite the loss, sophomore forward Ryan Algier remained optimistic, remarking, “It was a great experience because every player got to play a lot and have a lot of fun.”

For their third and final game, the ‘Jackets headed to Desio, a town near the Swiss border, to play another highly physical Italian team. The ‘Jackets fought until the very end, forcing the game into overtime. Yet, in what turned out to be another closely contested game, the ‘Jackets once again fell just short, losing 8580 to US Pallacanestro Aurora Desio. A key factor in their losses, according to Algier, was that “In the second and third games the players were bigger and stronger and were tough battles.”

It seems that many of the players’ fondest memories of their Italian trip came not only from the games they played, but the time spent bonding with their teammates in a foreign country and their interactions with the Italian teams and locals.

In the blogs, many of the players wrote about enjoying the various tours and Italian food, as well as enjoying the time spent exploring places on their own. A particularly memorable moment came after their loss against Pallacanestro when the ‘Jackets signed autographs for children who came to watch the game.

Reflecting on the ‘Jackets Italian offseason trip, junior forward Patrick Benka added, “It was a lot of fun to travel the country and see the major touring sights as well as play some basketball against high quality teams.” With their offseason trip behind them, and preseason training beginning soon, the ‘Jackets are looking forward to a new season with high hopes.

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