Photo by Jamie H. Vaught
TAMPA -- University of South Florida's men’s and women’s basketball teams will travel together on a unique, joint foreign tour of Spain starting August 8. Both teams will play four games during the 10-day tour while competing at the same locations and benefitting from invaluable educational and team bonding experiences amid the ancient Spanish cultural centers of Barcelona and Madrid.
“It’s such a unique opportunity with both teams traveling together,” said USF Head Men’s Basketball Coach and ex-UK assistant Orlando Antigua (pictured). “They are going to get an unbelievable experience on this trip. Most of these guys have never been in a foreign country, so it will be beneficial for them to experience another culture while playing the game they love as we prepare for the upcoming season.”
Under NCAA rules, teams are allowed to participate in a foreign tour once every four years. Spain made for an ideal location for both of USF’s men’s and women’s teams which boast several Spanish-speaking players and coaches.
“It means a lot for those three to be able to play with USF in their native country,” said USF Head Women’s Basketball Coach Jose Fernandez of his Bulls three Spaniards: Laia Flores, Ariadna Pujol and Laura Marcos. “I don’t know of another school that sends both their men’s and women’s team on a foreign tour in the same season. There are a lot of people that had a hand in making this trip possible, which will be so incredibly beneficial to our student-athletes.”
In addition to competing in games against professional athletes and the very valuable additional team practice time and bonding a foreign tour allows, the Bulls will have the opportunity to learn about Spanish culture, art and history through sightseeing tours and team functions. Each Bull will also earn up to three course credits in an upper level University elective.
Sophomore center Ruben Guerrero, from Marbella, Spain, is the Spanish native on the men’s team, while the women’s team features sophomore guard Laia Flores and junior guard Ariadna Pujol from Mataro, Spain and junior guard Laura Marcos Canedo from Salamanca, Spain. Both USF head coaches also speak fluent Spanish.
The teams will be allowed 10 practices starting on July 29 before departing from Tampa International Airport on Saturday, Aug. 8. The Bulls are scheduled to arrive in Madrid on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 9.
While in Madrid, the men’s team will take on the Venezuela National Team on Aug. 11 and the Angola National Team on Aug. 12, while the women’s team will face CREF Team on Aug. 11 and Club Baloncesto Estudiantes on Aug. 12. All four games will be played in Torrejon, a city close to Madrid. Both teams will then take part in an educational day on Aug. 13, when they tour the central square of Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace and various art museums.
The Bulls will travel via train across the Spanish countryside from Madrid to Barcelona on Friday, Aug. 14. While in Barcelona, the men’s team will face C.B. Vic in two games, one on Aug. 15 and one Aug. 18. The women’s team will take on Girona on Aug. 15 and Saint Adria on Aug. 18. The Bulls will experience another educational day on Aug. 16 in Barcelona when they explore Las Ramblas, a popular and bustling street in the area. The Bulls will return to Tampa on Aug. 19.
inaugural Hoophall Miami Invitational in Miami.
UK, by the way, will play Antigua’s USF Bulls on Friday, Nov. 27 in a doubleheader at the inaugrual Hoophall Miami Invitational in American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat. South Florida will also play the Wildcats in Rupp Arena during the 2016-17 season.