Created: Fri, 09 Aug 2013 11:52:00 EST
Updated: Fri, 09 Aug 2013 11:57:31 EST
The Mercer men’s basketball team left Friday on a 10-day international trip, partnering with Athletes in Action and Basketball Travelers for an Eastern European tour.
During their journey, the team will focus on service, team building, academics and basketball while visiting Germany and Lithuania.
Head coach Bob Hoffman’s design for the overseas trip was spawned two years ago, while discussing options with Mike Sigfrids of Athletes in Action and Nels Hawkinson of Basketball Travelers. With previous experience travelling with Athletes and Action in the region, Hoffman knew he could maximize the experience for his team.
“We could have gone to Italy or France or more exotic places,” Hoffman said. “I’ve been several times to Lithuania and Latvia and I know basketball is really good there - it is the sport. It’s an opportunity for us as a program to go places I’ve already been and get involved with coaches I’ve worked with.”
Mercer will travel with an AiA select team of players from NCAA Division I schools.
"It will be a unique experience to be together with the AiA team so our guys can build relationships with them too,” Hoffman said. “We’ll get to watch them play, cheer for them and hang out while speaking into each other’s lives. There’s always strength in numbers, and we’re excited about how we can partner together to make a difference in the lives of others.”
After a day’s stop in Germany and a boat tour of the Rhine river, Mercer flies to Vilnius airport in Lithuania to begin an eight-day stay in the country. Both Mercer and the AiA select team will see plenty of court time, with the Bears’ six games scheduled against the region’s professional level teams.
“Lithuania is a basketball rich country, so the potential for seeing really good basketball is at a high level,” Hoffman said. “Our guys will be tested and all kinds of people will come to the games because basketball is very popular there.”
Off the court, the squad will read two books while studying with Dr. Jeffrey Hugdahl, who joins the trip in a tutorial role. The team will also spend time doing service oriented project in order to learn more about the culture while giving back to the fans.
Complete coverage of the team’s foreign tour – including game schedules, game time video streams and video content - can be accessed at http://www.mercerbears.com/sports/mbkb/2013-14/Trip_Central.