Pac-12 All-Stars end trip to Australia with new friendships, insights

MELBOURNE, Australia – The Pac-12 Conference continues to work with its partners around the world to grow Pac-12 Global. In doing so, the conference aims to provide its student-athletes with the opportunity to travel internationally and connect with new people and cultures.
 
The Pac-12 Men’s Basketball All-Star tour of Australia certainly accomplished this goal. As the team headed into the trip, only one student-athlete (Matisse Thybulle) had ever visited Australia and only a handful had ever ventured outside of the United States.
 
From encountering their first kangaroo to facing their fear of heights on top of one of the tallest buildings in the world, these student-athletes created memories and formed bonds that will last a lifetime.
 
When the team convened in Los Angeles on July 5, the first bus ride to practice on the USC campus was quiet and the first practice that evening was more about getting to know each other than drawing up game plans.
 
The final full day in Australia brought a team-wide sing-a-long for Wesley Gordon on his birthday and a bus ride back from the final game that was full of laughs and stories about their many experiences together.
 
Visiting the Melbourne Zoo and the excitement of coming up close with a lion was certainly one of the highlights. Touring the tallest building in Australia, the Skydeck at Eureka Tower, created some humorous and memorable moments for all. The “Edge” experience at the Skydeck that included a glass box that moves out of the side of the building saw many face their fear of heights and provided others outstanding photo and video highlights. A walk through the popular Queen Victoria Market gave the team a chance to interact with the locals and pick up some Australian treasures to bring home with them.  
 
Simply having the opportunity to play a group of veterans in the Australia Olympic Team, which is ranked 11th in the FIBA rankings, made the trip rewarding to all. The experience to travel across the world and learn a new culture along the way is what these adventures are all about.

Going into the trip, everyone was aware of the challenge of facing an Australian Olympic team that included several NBA standouts. The Pac-12 All-Stars surprised many on Tuesday by leading the Australian team for most of the first half and coming within nine points of the Boomers at the end. Despite a much larger margin of victory for the Australian Boomers in Thursday’s rematch, fans and staff throughout Hisense Arena were very complimentary of the job the Pac-12 All-Stars did against a team of professionals.
 
The head coach of the Pac-12 All-Stars, Mike Montgomery, said it best in his postgame speech on Thursday night.
 
“This group is special,” Montgomery said. “We only had a couple practices before playing games, but each and every one of you worked hard and came together to represent not only the conference but your country. My staff and I were honored to have the opportunity to coach this team and are proud of how you represented yourselves throughout the trip.”
 
As the Pac-12 All-Stars gathered for one final huddle after Thursday’s game, Arizona’s Kadeem Allen said to his teammates “I appreciate being a part of this and playing with each and every one you.”

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