Today we drove north two hours from Florence through the Apennines to the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and its expansive Po Valley and the city of Modena.
We lunched at Le Macine, where we dined on some of the best bread and balsamic vinaigrette of the trip along with lasagna and chicken, typical of a normal pre-game meal for the players.
After lunch we traveled to Maranello to the Ferrari Museum, which everyone seemed to really enjoy. According to our museum guide Enzo Ferrari was famous for saying "you do not need to remember your victories, rather remember your mistakes, it is the only way you will improve." Seems sound advice, and possibly something our players will take away from this tour of Italy.
The team got to get up close and personal with Ferrari's Formula 1 racing and GT street cars both old and new. There was even a Ferrari boat that you may see AD Patrick Nero cruising the Potomac on when we return. There were many limited edition Ferraris, including one from the 1960's with a price tag of $35 million! Another highlight of the factory tour was seeing the images of Jody Scheckter, the 1979 Formula 1 World Champion and father of current GW club sports council president and avid varsity athletics supporter Hugo Scheckter.
According to our tour guide Nic Tozzi, the Emilia Romagna region, and specifically the area around Poggio Rusco - the site of tonight's game - was recently hit hard by an earthquake. As we found out later in the day during a winding, detour-filled drive to Poggio Rusco, the area is still reeling.
We arrived a little late to the Palasport in Poggio Rusco from all the "deviaziones," or detours. We passed many condemned and even destroyed old farmhouses along the way, which brought the realization that once again our game was a bit of a goodwill event.
After touring Italy for a week and facing a pair of American military bases, the team was anxious to take the court against a professional club. Tonight's opponent goes by Primavera Mirandola as well as its sponsor name Dinamica Generale, and is nicknamed the Stings. The team was recently promoted to Nazionale A, the third tier of Italian basketball.
GW jumped ahead 23-10 after the first quarter, but Primavera slowly worked its way back to within four at 44-40 behind a series of long-range bombs and a cold offensive stretch from the Colonials. However, the final seconds of the half proved to be the turning point as Joe McDonald hit a pair of free throws for a six-point lead, then Bryan Bynes picked off a long outlet pass and canned a 55-foot heave at the buzzer to give GW a 49-40 edge at the break.
McDonald, Isaiah Armwood, Dwayne Smith and Kevin Larsen then sparked a run to begin the second half as the Colonials completed a 19-4 run for a 63-44 advantage halfway through the third quarter. GW cruised from there, with all 12 players getting into the scoring column en route to the 93-67 triumph. Armwood finished with 14 points and six rebounds to lead the way, followed by 13 points, six boards, five steals and four assists from McDonald.
Tomorrow brings some early afternoon rest before we head to Bologna to face Italian Lega Due (League 2) power Fortitudo Bologna, then a drive further north for an early morning check-in at our final destination - Lake Como.
Check out photos from today's adventures here, including a game box score, and you can view Bryan Bynes halfcourt buzzer beater over on the @GW_MBB TwitVid channel. Having some issues with video upload from our hotel's WiFi, will try to get today's video recap uploaded as soon as possible.