Bears Preparing for Italy Trip

Aug. 4, 2005

BERKELEY - In its first overseas trip in nine years, the California men's basketball team will travel to Italy later this month to play five games against foreign teams. During their Aug. 12-23 trip, the Golden Bears will visit Florence, Rome, Venice and Lake Como.

To prepare for the privately-financed venture, Cal started 10 days of practice last weekend and the Bears will work out regularly until they depart for Europe.

'We are very excited about the chance to play with each other in a controlled fashion,' said senior center Rod Benson. 'We are working on getting all the kinks out and by the start of the season, we should be very solid. We get to see what each of us can do, and we are all committed to winning.'

The team arrives in Florence the afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 13, and the Bears will play their first game a day later vs. Veroli in Veroli Palatorre near Rome at 8 p.m. local time.

After an off-day to tour Rome, Cal returns to Florence for much of the day Aug. 16 before busing to Venice that night. The Bears then play back-to-back contests the next two days, first vs. KK Jance of Slovenia at 8 p.m. at La Ghirada in Treviso Aug. 17 and vs. Trieste at 6 p.m. at Palatrieste Aug. 18.

On Friday, Aug. 19, Cal travels to Lake Como, and the Bears will face a team from Belgium in Caspoggio Aug. 20 (time TBA). After another off-day on the 21st, Cal wraps up its tour vs. Casalpusterlengo at 6 p.m. at Palasport Aug. 22. The Bears then return home Aug. 23.

International rules, including a trapezoidal lane, will be used in all five contests. The games will also give a pair of Cal players who redshirted last year - forward Leon Powe (knee) and guard Omar Wilkes (transfer from Kansas) - a chance to compete with their fellow Bears prior to the start of the 2005-06 campaign.

Under NCAA rules, teams are allowed to take a foreign trip every four years, and this marks Cal's first tour since the Bears visited France, Monte Carlo and Italy in 1996. The following season, they finished 23-9 and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

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