Men’s Basketball | 2016 Italy Exhibition Tour

Team in front of Saint Ignatius statue (founders of the Jesuits)
Team in front of Saint Ignatius statue (founders of the Jesuits)

Updated: Sept. 1, 2016

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After 10 practice days beginning in late July, Santa Clara men's basketball embarked on its Italy Exhibition Tour on Saturday, Aug. 20.

The Broncos were based in Rome, Florence and Lake Como for 10 days and nine nights, but traveled to surrounding areas, including Pisa, Piombino and Milan. From Lake Como, located in northern Italy, the travel party also made an afternoon trip to Lugano, Switzerland.

In addition to playing three games from Italy's A & B Leagues, the Broncos visited a number of historic sites including the Colosseum, Forum and Trevi Fountain in Rome; St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City; Accademia Gallery in Florence; and the Leaning Tower in Pisa.

The team was in action for the first time under head coach Herb Sendek who was hired in March.

The Broncos went 2-1 on the trip, downing a pair of Italian B League teams before losing the finale to an A League squad. Santa Clara knocked off Piombino-Venturina on Thursday, Aug. 25, and two days later downed Basket Lecco. Basket Brescia Leonessa, which won last year's A2 League crown, edged the Broncos on Sunday, Aug. 28.

The trip, scheduled in the spring, gave the new coaching staff valuable time with the team, which returns its top eight scorers, including senior Jared Brownridge, the West Coast Conference's leader last year at 20.6 points per game.

Per NCAA rules, basketball programs may schedule a summer trip once every four years.

This was Sendek's third time leading a team on a foreign tour. In the summer of 1999, Sendek took his NC State squad to Italy and just three years ago at Arizona State he led his team on a trip to China.

Italy Exhibition Tour Log

Day One • Sunday, Aug. 21
A 21-hour trip, not including the nine-hour time difference, ended at approximately 10 a.m. Central European Time (CET) when the travel party arrived safely at Aeroporti di Roma. The group departed San Francisco Airport at 6:30 a.m. Pacific the previous day and had a layover in Minneapolis, Minnesota, before departing to Rome. Once arriving in one of the world's most iconic cities, the group jumped right into an orientation tour, including the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navonna.

Photo Gallery
| Video

Day Two • Monday, Aug. 22
The day was highlighted with a morning trip to Vatican City, which included extensive time in St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. A local tour guide provided historic detail of much of the Vatican. After time to walk around Rome in the afternoon, the team held its first practice of the trip in the evening.

Photo Gallery | Video

Day Three • Tuesday, Aug. 23
A stop at the Colosseum in the morning preceded a roughly four-plus hour bus ride to Florence. The travel group was on its own to tour the city once arriving in the evening.

Photo Gallery | Video

Day Four • Wednesday, Aug. 24
In its first full day in Florence, the travel party walked the city in the morning, visiting the Accademia Gallery and spending time around the Cathedral, a famous landmark. A local tour guide provided background on the city and its historic elements. The team held its second practice of the tour in the evening.The group awoke to news of a catastrophic earthquake in Central Italy, which occurred overnight. Thankfully the horrific disaster was in another region, though news shook the group and caused concern for families back home.

Photo Gallery | Video

Day Five • Thursday, Aug. 25
The first of three gamedays arrived and the travel group was on the move from early morning until late at night. There was a stop in Pisa, about a 90-minute drive southwest of Florence, to visit the famous Leaning Tower. The group moved on to Venturina for the game. The Broncos came away with a 78-61 victory over Piombino-Venturina of the Italian B League.

Game Recap | Photo Gallery | Game Highlights

Day Six • Friday, Aug. 26
The Broncos traveled from Florence to Lake Como, making a pit stop at the Ferrari Museum in Modena. There was roughly a two-hour bus ride to the museum from Florence and another three hours to Lake Como.

Photo Gallery

Day Seven • Saturday, Aug. 27
The Broncos traveled about 30 miles south to Milan in the morning for a guided tour of one of the top fashion cities in the world. The group was then on its own to walk around for a couple hours before heading back to Lake Como to get ready for the second game of the trip. After a slow start, the Broncos prevailed 68-57 over Basket Lecco of the Italian B League.

Game Recap | Game Highlights | Photo Gallery

Day Eight • Sunday, Aug. 28
The travel group visited its second country on the trip, spending a couple hours in Lugano, Switzerland, which is roughly a 30-minute drive from Lake Como, before playing its third and final game. In the afternoon, the team held a walkthrough on the shores of Lake Como then departed for the game in Brescia, about a 90-minute bus ride from the hotel. The Broncos played a solid first half, but Basket Brescia Leonessa prevailed, 72-68, after an impressive third quarter.

Game Recap
| Game Highlights | Photo Gallery

Day Nine • Monday, Aug. 29
The last day in Italy was one of sightseeing. The group took a boat tour of Lake Como and was dropped off in Bellagio where everyone had a couple hours for a walking tour of the quaint town. The travel party spent the after and evening in Lake Como, finishing the night with of course a nice Italian dinner.

Photo Gallery

Day 10 • Tuesday, Aug. 30
The final day in Italy began with an early wakeup call and flight out of Milan, about a 45-minute drive from Lake Como. A delayed flight to JFK Airport in New York was adjusted to Atlanta. From there the travel party dispersed with players returning to their homes.

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