Rockets take flight to Greece, trip to include four basketball games

August 6, 2013 | News, UToday



Following nine practices over the last month, the Toledo men’s basketball program embarked on its trip to Greece Monday morning.

thumb-rocket-color-logoThe Rockets will play four games during their time overseas (Aug. 5-16) as well as take in some sightseeing at several mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece.

The NCAA allows one foreign tour every four years for a program with teams allotted as many as 10 days of practices prior to such a trip.

“This trip is designed to provide our players a tremendous cultural and educational experience, and the basketball part is truly secondary in that regard,” Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “Our practices this summer have allowed us to introduce our three incoming freshmen to the way our program operates earlier than usual, and we can also use it as a great recruiting tool in the future.”

Kowalczyk views the trip to Greece as a building block for the Rockets, who posted their second straight winning season in 2012-13 and tied for first place with a 10-6 league record with Western Michigan in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division.

“Developing the chemistry of our team for the upcoming season will be huge since we are adding seven players to our playing group,” Kowalczyk said. “A trip like this gives our players and staff an opportunity to learn about each other away from the court and develop a bond that can be beneficial once our season starts.”

The Rockets return five letterwinners — seniors Rian Pearson and Matt Smith; junior Julius Brown; and sophomores Nathan Boothe and Josh Lemons — this season as well as two junior transfers, Justin Drummond and J.D. Weatherspoon; one redshirt freshman, Aubrey Williams; and four newcomers, sophomore Angel Aparicio and freshmen Zach Garber, Jordan Lauf and Jonathan Williams.

Following are details of where the Rockets are scheduled to visit during their time in Greece as well as their game schedule:

Tuesday, Aug. 6 — Arrive in Athens

Wednesday, Aug. 7 — Visit Epidaurus and Nafplion during morning and early afternoon. The huge theater at Epidaurus, which has delighted visitors for its symmetry and beauty, is used once again for dramatic performances. The theater was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the fourth century B.C. The theater is marveled for its exceptional acoustics, which permit almost perfect hearing of unamplified spoken words from the stage to all 15,000 spectators regardless of their seating.

Game vs. All-Star Athens 1 in the evening

Thursday, Aug. 8 — Trip to Ancient Corinth, where St. Paul lived and preached for two years. The remains of the city, which include the Agora (marketplace) and the Temple of Apollo (sixth century B.C), show how rich and important Corinth was in ancient times. Also on tap will be a short cruise through the Canal of Corinth. Few ships are able to navigate this narrow passage between mainland Greece and the Peloponnesian peninsula.

Game vs. All-Star Athens 2 in the evening

Friday, Aug. 9 — Travel on ferry from Athens to Island of Mykonos

Saturday through Monday, Aug. 10-12 — Remain in Mykonos for sightseeing and other activities

Tuesday, Aug. 13 — Travel back to Athens

Evening game vs. Kimi SC (Third National Division)

Wednesday, Aug. 14 — Visit the Acropolis and the Agora. The famous Parthenon was used to store raw gold from tributary states and dedications to Athena. It is located in the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, and was dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their protector. Its construction began in 449 B.C. and was completed in 438 B.C.

Evening game vs. French National Team

Thursday, Aug. 15 — Visit Constitution Square (Syntagma), the house of Parliament, the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier and the national library. Drive down Herod Atticus Street to see the Evzones in their picturesque uniforms and the presidential palace. En route will see Hadrians Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and make a stop at the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first Olympic Games of the modern era were held in 1896. Dinner and Greek folklore show to conclude evening.

Friday, Aug. 16 — Return to Toledo