Today we were lucky because we had the whole day free in San Marino. It was another amazing day that was capped off with another win. Here to tell you about the day is fellow senior Paul Cummins…
We began the day with what was the best breakfast spread so far; salami, ham, cheese, brown bread, croissants, yogurts and cereal. No eggs and bacon but it was a nice start. Following food, we hit the road to Rimini to soak up some sun, sea and sand. The trip took about 20 minutes, and soon as we hit the beach our shirts were off and we sprinted towards the Adriatic…in the wise words of Mike Gruner -- "Sun's out Gun's out!" The Adriatic Sea was the perfect temperature and running into the water until we fell was almost as exciting as seeing Matt Betley in his Italian Speedo!
Ted Detmer showed his face in the water when he took tanning breaks and Bilal Abdullah preferred searching the beach for any local talent over getting his feet wet. After a swim we played an intense beach volleyball game where nobody could stay in the same spot for over a second because the sand was scorching hot. It made the game more fun, although diving for a dig was dangerous. It didn't stop Jeff Robinson and Matt though.
The stay at Rimini beach was capped off by another dip in the Adriatic where Jesper Anderson found a variety of slimy sea creatures to drop on Ted and interrupt his tanning/napping. We had a memorable day at Rimini, and it seems as though Italy gets more impressive with every passing day.
Following a nap and some food at the hotel we headed off to play the San Marino national team in its remarkable national stadium. Thankfully this gym was not a sauna like the previous courts, and it showed as we seemed more conditioned than the gritty San Marino team. The game was probably our biggest challenge yet because they played hard and proud and they had two very talented players - Raschi and Rossini (seems like all San Marino surnames end in 'I'). They took an early lead in the first quarter but we pulled it back and took a 10-point lead to the half thanks to some sharp shooting from behind the line by Jesper.
We held the lead throughout the second half despite San Marino coming to within four points. The play of the game may have been a no-look assist from Andrew Brown to Mike Gruner for a 3-point play that stopped a threatening San Marino run later in the second half. It was a monumental game for the Lafayette family because Matt Betley made his comeback from ankle surgery. He started the game and his trademark hustle and toughness shined through and he motivated the rest of us to a victory as only a captain can.
In closing I want to point out some of the differences between the American game and the European game (since I hail from Europe). The American game is more athletic, 1-on-1 focused and defensive-minded. The European game is very much team-oriented, focused on offensive skills (especially shooting) and is less aggressive on both ends of the floor. What may have surprised the teams we have played over here so far is how well the Leopards shoot the ball. Well, that's all from the Irish lad…I hope everyone one back home is healthy and happy.