Cougars to Embark on Italian Foreign Tour

PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State University men’s basketball team will team up with Basketball Travelers, Inc. for a 10-day international tour of Italy, August 4-14, head coach Ernie Kent announced.

The Cougars will depart Pullman the morning of Thursday, Aug. 4 and arrive in Rome the morning of Friday, Aug. 5. The tour will take Washington State to several different cities, including Florence, Vatican City, Pisa, Tuscany, Venice, Vicenza and Como. The Cougars will fly back out of Milan, arriving in Pullman the night of Sunday, Aug. 14.

“We’re really excited to take a foreign trip this year, and to take it to Italy is an extra bonus,” Kent said. “These trips provide so much for a team, especially a young team like ours, in terms of team bonding, extra practices and game experience. This is also a great cultural experience for these young men, with most of them having never been out of the United States. Our staff is very grateful for this wonderful opportunity.”

Washington State will play five games in Italy. The first game will take place against Dream Team Italy Select, Saturday, Aug. 6 at Rome. In the second game, the Cougars will face Tuscany Select, Aug. 9 at Tuscany. The third game is against Vicenza Select, Aug. 11 at Vicenza. That game is the first of three-straight days with a game, as the Cougars face Italian Select, Aug. 12 at Como and BC Silute of Lithuania, Aug. 13 also at Como.

Along with the five games, the team will get a full culture experience along the way. Although tentative, Washington State is scheduled for activities such as a trip to Vatican City, a sightseeing tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum, a tour of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a trip to the U.S. Military Base at Vicenza and a sightseeing tour of Lake Como, which includes a stop at Bellagio.

The game scheduling and tour coordination is being handled by Basketball Travelers, Inc., a company established in 1985 by rising-senior Josh Hawkinson’s parents, Nels and Nancy Hawkinson. The organization arranges domestic and international basketball competition. Over 200 collegiate and high school teams participate annually in tours and tournaments organized by Basketball Travelers, Inc. In addition, it organizes NCAA foreign exhibition games as well as international Olympic-qualifying tournaments for national teams. This November the Cougars are playing in a tournament run by Basketball Travelers, the Paradise Jam.

“It has been great working with Basketball Travelers, Inc. in planning this trip,” Kent said. “The Hawkinson’s are great people and their experience and expertise in organizing foreign tours is outstanding. We’re very excited to have them help us with this tour.”

The NCAA allows teams to travel overseas for a summer tour once every four years. Washington State most recently toured Australia in August of 2012 and before that Australia and New Zealand in the June of 2007, the summer between NCAA Tournament appearances under then-head coach Tony Bennett.

Be sure to check back with www.wsucougars.com for game and tour updates, including photos, blogs and more; and follow along on Twitter and Instagram with username @WSUMensHoops.

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