Nic, our tour guide, was right. It was like waking up in a fairy tale here in Lake Como. This area of Italy is vastly different than any other we've seen up to this point with its lush, green hillsides lined with houses and estates stretching high into the sky, and the greyish blue water filling the valley and humming with boats transporting tourists and locals all over the area.
The day was spent at leisure for players and staff alike - some ventured into the city of Como by boat to visit the shops, while others went into town to ride the cable car to the peak for a panorama of Lake Como, and still others stayed close to our hotel - Hotel Regina Olga - in the quiet town of Cernobbio just up the west side of Lake Como. A welcome day of rest after back-to-back extended days of travel and games, and it's also worth pointing out that it appears we've shed the dreaded 'Lucipher' heat wave for more pleasant temperatures on Lake Como.
This afternoon we boarded our bus and headed back up the hills and through the tunnels due west for the town of Oleggio and its local Nazionale C - Italy's fifth division - basketball team nicknamed the Magic.
Despite the cooler temperatures here in northern Italy, tonight's gym was still rather hot and again full of mosquitoes. The arena was not as hot as the previous night's game in Bologna, which is actually what forced freshman Joe McDonald to miss the second half of Thursday's 68-54 loss to Lega Due Fortitudo Bologna. McDonald was back in the lineup tonight against the Oleggio Magic and finished with 10 points and was the catalyst for many baskets.
The star of the first half was Isaiah Armwood, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the opening period on a variety of shots around the rim, including a soaring tip dunk that helped ignite a game-changing run. GW led early, but Oleggio slowly worked back within a point, 30-29, in the second quarter before a 17-6 spurt gave the Colonials a 47-35 advantage at the break.
The Magic continued to hang around in the third quarter, closing within five points at 54-49 with just over two minutes to play in the period. Once again GW made a run, this one 13-2 to cap the quarter with a 67-51 lead.
The fourth quarter was all GW - a great way to end our tour games! The Colonials outscored the Magic, 26-7, over the final 10 minutes, including the contest's final 18 points over the last six minutes, for a 93-58 triumph. Iowa State, a NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 participant in 2012, beat this same Oleggio Magic team by 41 points last summer, so a 35-point victory is promising.
Freshman Patricio Garino scored 11 of his team-leading and quiet 18 points in the second half, followed by Armwood's 16. McDonald and fellow rookie Paris Maragkos each added 10, while Lasan Kromah and Kethan Savage score nine apiece.
Here's today's video recap, and you can also check out some photos from Lake Como and our game vs. Oleggio Magic. Be sure to check out the coverage of the rest of our trip over on @GW_MBB and the @GW_MBB TwitVid channel.
Tomorrow marks the final day of our tour, with a relaxing day in, on and around Lake Como. We cap everything off with a dinner at the Regina Olga looking out onto the stunning backdrop of the lake and mountains, then an early morning departure for our flight home.