Rick Pitino and the Iona Gaels are headed to Greece for a 12-working day overseas tour from August 19-30, when they will enjoy five exhibition games against four professional basketball groups to support put together for the 2021-22 season.
While there, the Gaels will compete from Ionikos Nikaias, Lavrio, Pitino’s former crew Panathinaikos, and Peristeri, the latter in a two-match collection.
“It can be a quite specific time to bond with your crew and exercise with your team, and Greece provides a particular dimension,” PItino mentioned. “Usually, you really don’t get fantastic competition on these international visits. We’re likely to participate in from four division one good teams, and one particular crew plays in the EuroLeague, my ex-team. To play 5 online games in seven times in Athens versus professional teams, it’s an awesome knowledge. Culturally, it does not get any better than Greece. This vacation, the experience, the competitors — it can be the excursion of a life span for these young gentlemen.”
All four teams compete in the Greek Basketball League, which is regarded the maximum stage in the country and one of the top rated 3 domestic leagues in Europe, for every FIBA rankings. Dates and occasions for these exhibition game titles have not still been finalized.
Panathinaikos, the five-time defending Greek Basketball League winner, also competes in the EuroLeague from the leading teams during the entire continent. The EuroLeague is viewed as 1 of the most prestigious and competitive professional basketball leagues in the earth, second to only the NBA.
Pitino coached at Panathinaikos for two decades, prior to returning to college basketball at Iona. He also served as the head coach for Greece’s countrywide staff throughout the Olympic qualifying tournament for the 2021 Tokyo Games and used some of his downtime to work out the logistics with journey companies.
“It definitely will take a ton detailed operate, and I was there for 5 months (with the countrywide workforce), so I put in a whole lot of time doing work this out,” Pitino explained. “It was not simple, but Greece opened up, so it turned a ton much easier when it opened up. I also have coaches on 3 of the teams that are close friends of mine. A few of the game titles are in opposition to my former assistant coaches.”
Iona will remain in Athens for the the greater part of the vacation. All through its days off, the crew will coach and visit historical and cultural landmarks.
This will be Iona’s initial global excursion given that 2008, when it visited Canada with former mentor Kevin Willard.
The Gaels concluded 12-6 last period, beating three COVID-associated pauses, such as a person right before what was a operate to their fifth-straight MAAC Event title. Iona returned to the NCAA Tournament as a 15-seed and fell to 2nd-seeded Alabama in the opening spherical.
The Gaels will be underdogs after once more all through their tricky slate of exhibition video games in Greece, but the closing scores will never make a difference as a great deal to Pitino.
“The intent of the vacation is to get good competition and get ready for the time,” Pitino mentioned. “We’re hoping that we participate in competitive basketball, but these are expert groups, so it really is a small little bit various.”