Wendell Green looks forward to every leg of Auburn’s tour of Israel, except for the opening leg:
The flight will be long.
What is the remedy? Getting a few Netflix movies downloaded to their devices will be key, a few players said, and a nap will be crucial — it’s all part of the big first hurdle the Auburn men’s basketball players were talking about Friday at Neville Arena during their last workout. Before the journey.
Once the team lands, however, navigation should be smooth. The tour will take players to some of Israel’s most important historic sites, and the team will play three televised matches in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Auburn leaves Saturday morning, before its first game of the tour on August 2.
The players had their first media encounter before the trip on Friday and said they looked forward to visiting, competing and treating the exhibition outings as if they were real regular season games.
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“Of course playing, but just all the tours,” Green said, when asked what he was looking forward to. “Everything happened – all the religions – everything happened in Israel.
“Just accept that as a blessing to go there, and it should just be fun.”
This will be the team’s first trip with its four new players: Johni Broome, Tre Donaldson, Chance Westry and Yohan Traoré.
“I just get closer to my brothers,” Broome said. “As a team, we’re coming to Israel to compete and show our other SEC competitions what we can do and what the team is like, but most importantly, we’re going to see some of the historic sites and create bonds with my teammates.”
All three games will be televised on the SEC Network with denunciations at noon Central and 8 p.m. in Israel.
On August 2, Auburn will start against the Israel U-20 national team in Jerusalem before the tour turns into two games in Tel Aviv against the Israel all-star team on August 7 and against the team of Israel on August 8.
“Israel, Jerusalem, it’s kind of where the Bible was written, isn’t it?” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl. “And a lot of these guys read the Bible and a lot of these guys have family that reads the Bible, and some of their family may never get a chance to go there, so kind of vicariously, the families live through these students – the athletes and their experience.
Pearl is Jewish but spoke about the importance of the area in history and in different religions. The team is to have a meal with the Palestinian national team basketball coach during the trip.
The Tigers are ready for takeoff, but there is also a catch:
Auburn was practicing Friday with the international competition ball, which has different colored stripes and is apparently a bit slippery.
“The international ball has no grip,” laughed Chance Westry. “He has no grip. But we just have to get used to it and get ready to play in Israel.
Green shook his head, “KD called it a soccer ball,” he laughed.
Still, the Tigers have been training with him for a few weeks now, and Green is confident with the ball in his hands.
As with those Netflix downloads, it’s travel-ready.
“It was (seemingly different) at first, but I’m pretty used to it now,” he said. “I feel pretty good about it.”