EBT’s Elite International Experience in Madrid

Posted by on Jul 31, 2019 in Uncategorized | No Comments

In early June in Madrid we hosted the European Basketball Tour team, a group of 16 to 18 year old players and their coaches from various parts of the USA for high-level games, cultural experiences and much more. The aim was to expose the players to elite European basketball and get a feel for the “overseas” professional life on the court, while taking on unique European experiences that they wouldn’t have come across before.

The group consisted of players Mor, Chad, Maurice, Isiah, AJ, Taz, Sam, Ryan and Di’meire, coaches Eric, Tez and ET, videographer Emmanuel and BTM rep Tom, with the players being from Florida, Louisville, New Jersey and Dakar, Senegal.

Day 1

The team landed in early afternoon on Monday 3rd June, where they met BTM Rep Tom at Madrid-Barajas airport and jumped on the bus to the Holiday Inn Express in Tres Cantos, Madrid. After checking-in to the rooms and dropping off the bags, they headed to Restaurante Estaciones for their first meal of the tour. Menu options included paella, chicken, fish and a variety of other delicious dishes, with a starter, a main course and dessert. After filling up on great Spanish food they headed back to the hotel for a much-needed nap.

After some rest the team arose, put on their practice uniforms and headed to “La Luz” arena where a lot of their basketball activity would take place through the week. Tonight would be a team practice with a lot of competitive elements, as Coach’s Eric, Tez and ET put the players through a variety of drills and game-like situations to prepare them for the competition they’d be facing later in the week. Ryan brought a lot of intensity to the practice, both vocally and defensively, while Mor showed off his elite athleticism and toughness.

After a great practice the team headed to dinner at Los Castilleros restaurant, a local place that serves some great meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, and then back to the hotel for the evening.

Day 2

It was an early start for the team on Day 2, as they ate a swift continental breakfast and then headed back to La Luz for their 2nd practice of the tour. It was a strong practice for Maurice, who showed off his smooth game and knock-down shooting skills, while Taz brought great energy as always. The practice culminated with implementing some offenses that the team would use that evening in the game, which included a lot of ball-screen action to take advantage of EBT’s strong guard play. The coaching staff had the players really locked in, and the energy was really high-level for the entire 2 hours.

After showering back at the hotel the group headed to Los Castilleros for lunch, and then back to the hotel to put their feet up for a few hours. The first game of the tour would be that evening against the Tres Cantos Men’s team, who play in the Primera Division of Madrid and have a strong and physical group of players that would prove to be an exceptional test for the boys from the USA.

The group headed to dinner at Restaurante Estaciones and then were transferred by bus to La Luz to prepare for the game. They were put through a strong warm-up and the hype level began to build, before the starting five of Isiah, AJ, Maurice, Chad and Mor took the floor for tip-off. Isiah immediately took control of the game offensively, knocking down some huge 3’s and putting his defenders on skates with his shifty ball-handling ability. Chad was a beast inside, playing with a tremendous amount of heart and toughness and willing the ball into the basket on some possessions.

The Tres Cantos team were a typical Spanish unit, with fluid ball movement and exceptional decision making, and they put a lot of pressure on the EBT players defensively. The EBT team had a 50-47 lead at the half, but Tres Cantos came out firing in the 2nd half, going on a 10-0 run and never looking back as they ran away with a 87-77 win. It was a great first overseas game experience for the Americans and there were a lot of positives to be taken from the contest.

Day 3

The boys had another early start on Day 3, heading to La Luz after breakfast for a lighter shootaround and a run through of some offenses and out of bounds plays. The boys had experienced a long day of basketball on the Tuesday and had another game coming up in the evening, so the coaches wanted to conserve some energy so they could perform later that day. Sam showed his ability to knock down shots with great form, while Di’meire took advantage of the 8 foot rims on the opposite court, getting his Zion Williamson on.

After practice the team headed to the local mall, which features a large food court where they all headed to various restaurants to grab some lunch. As per usual Mor ate about twice as much as everyone else, and he and Isiah introduced themselves to some of the locals. Taz and AJ struggled a little with their translations at Burger King, but finally managed to get the honey mustard they were after.

After some rest back at the hotel, the bus arrived to transport the team to Torrejon de Ardoz, where EBT would play against the experienced CD Parque de Cataluna. EBT’s opponents would that weekend be playing in a vital semi-final match-up, so the game would offer both teams an important challenge for different reasons. Parque de Cataluna’s arena was incredibly unique, a court housed under a large floodlit tent, offering the boys a very different game experience than they were accustomed to.

The game started with a bang, as AJ and Maurice came out all guns blazing with some big 3-point shots, and Di’meire brought some positive energy and performance from the bench. However the star of the evening’s show would be Chad, who dominated the boards and around the basket with a variety of post-moves, as well as stepping out and scoring from the mid-range. CD Parque de Cataluna played great team basketball, working hard to put points on the board, but had no answer for the young man from Florida who put the EBT team on his back with 30+ points to lead them to a 7-point win.

The team were driven back to Tres Cantos, going straight to Los Castilleros for some dinner and then heading back to the hotel for some rest and recuperation.

Day 4

The boys were treated to some extra sleep on the Thursday, which they all took advantage of before waking up to get lunch at Restaurante Estaciones. A bus then arrived at the hotel to transport them into central Madrid, where they were dropped at the incredible Bernabeu Stadium, home of the world’s most successful football club Real Madrid. The boys were blown away by the sheer size and spectacle of the stadium, as well as the trophy cabinet that had been filled to the brim over the club’s years and years of success.

Ryan captured plenty of images and video for his Instagram and Snapchat, including a sing-a-long with a large group of French students who were also on a trip to Madrid, and Mor purchased himself a nice photo of him holding one of Madrid’s most recent trophies.

After leaving the Bernabeu, the bus transported the group to the beautiful Retiro Park and the incredible boating lake found in the middle. The team enjoyed a stroll around the park grounds, introducing themselves to locals and snapping some more great pictures, building up a large appetite for some Madrid dinner.

A brief walk towards the WizInk Center took them to an American diner, where dinner would consist of American-style burgers and fries. After fueling up they walked across the street to the WizInk Center, the home of Real Madrid Basketball, where they took their seats to see the home team blow out Valencia in Game 1 of the ACB semi-finals.

It was a dominant performance by Real Madrid, consistently one of the best basketball teams in Europe, and the boys were inspired from seeing such amazing skill and team-play. Di’meire made an outrageous statement that he thought EBT could beat Valencia, which sparked a raging debate leading to the arrangement of a game the following day between the players and coaches.

The bus picked the team up after the game and dropped them back to the hotel, where they headed to their rooms for the night.

Day 5

The boys were quiet and focused on the Friday morning in preparation for what would be one of the biggest games of the tour, a battle against their coaches after a huge amount of smack talking the previous night. They walked across to La Luz and laced up, before hitting the floor to put up some warm-up shots to get ready for the contest.

The first match-up saw Coaches Eric, Tez and ET and BTM Rep Tom play Chad, Isiah, Maurice and AJ. Fortunately for the players, the coaches needed a little while to get game-ready and the boys won a closely contested first scrimmage, with some tough plays from AJ and a game-winning bucket from the corner by Chad. However this was their one and only win of the morning, as the coaches proceeded to run the court, with Eric running the show, Tez scoring from the perimeter and on tough drives and ET making anyone guarding him look like a child. After shutting down the boys hype, the coaches retired to the bench to let the players run some half-court action.

The team then headed to Restaurante Estaciones where they had another delicious 3-course lunch, before returning to the hotel to shower and rest for the evening game. Tonight’s match-up would be against Tres Cantos U17’s, who would also be joined by a couple of Men’s team players to bolster the squad.

Later that evening the team walked back to La Luz and took the floor for a warm-up with Coach ET, with layups and some drive and kick action to get them ready. The starting five for EBT was Sam, Ryan, Taz, Di’meire and Mor, with Sam opening up the scoring for the Americans with a nice floater in the lane. Ryan once again brought great energy on the defensive end, battling hard for rebounds and loose balls and setting the tone of the intensity required to win the game.

However in their usual fashion Tres Cantos moved the ball swiftly across the perimeter and displayed exceptional drive and kick action, scoring both at the basket and from long range. The Americans continued to fight relentlessly, as they had for the entire tour, but the Tres Cantos team unity proved too strong and the Spanish hosts clinched a 4-point win.

A dinner at Los Castilleros finished a long and highly competitive day for the EBT team and they headed back to the hotel for the evening, exhausted but having learned so much from their experience so far.

Day 6

The boys had another lay-in on the Saturday after most of them stayed up to watch the Warriors v Raptors, and after doing so headed to the mall for some lunch before jumping on the train to Sol in central Madrid.

The boys and coaches had a chance to explore the city a little bit, making the most of their free time by doing some shopping and enjoying the sights and sounds of Spain’s bustling capital. They then headed to the incredible Royal Palace of Madrid, where Sam said of the Palace that it was the “best thing he’d ever seen.”

After fully immersing themselves in Spanish culture and history, they headed to one of Spain’s biggest and most famous fast food chains “100 Montaditos” which serves 100 variations of mini-baguette, as well as sides like salads, fries, chicken wings and more. Fully stuffed, they headed back to the Sol station a very happy group, where they hopped on the last train back to Tres Cantos.

Day 7

The final full day of the tour presented the boys with what was likely to be the toughest challenge, a chance to compete against ADC Boadilla, a team from Boadilla del Monte in Western Madrid that played in a beautiful stadium about 30 minutes from Tres Cantos. This team had in 2018/19 been 4 points way from promotion to the EBA league, and had some highly talented young players and experienced veterans on their roster.

After their final lunch of the tour at the mall, the EBT team boarded the bus for Boadilla and arrived with plenty of time to get loose in the amazing Polideportivo Rey Felipe VI stadium, meeting the players from the opposing team before getting on the court for an intense warm-up with Coach’s Tez and ET.

The starting five for EBT was Isiah, AJ, Maurice, Chad and Mor, and both teams poured in baskets in the first quarter from inside and outside. Sam offered some valuable minutes off the bench, hitting some clutch shots for the Americans, while Taz contributed essential hustle points and rebounds when he checked in to the game. Ultimately the team needed some closers to finish off the strong Spanish side, who were very skilled and had some strong athletes on the roster, and it was once again Chad and Isiah that stepped up big when it mattered and put on an offensive show. In an amazing 4th quarter effort, EBT continued to play relentlessly and grabbed a 5-point victory against the Boadilla team.

The bus picked up the tired team from Boadilla and transported them back to Tres Cantos, where they headed to the local Dominoes for some well-deserved pizza and then returned to the hotel to pack their bags for their early flight back to the States the following morning.

Day 8

A bus met the team bright and early at the hotel, transporting them to Terminal 4 where they checked in and boarded their flight back across the Atlantic, exhausted but more than satisfied with their trip to Madrid.

It was an incredible experience for the EBT team, and a great opportunity for us at BTM Basketball to host such a talented and hard-working group. Also big shout out to Emmanuel, the videographer for the team who put together some amazing visuals throughout the experience.

Head Coach Eric Richardson said ““BTM provided us with an amazing experience – we definitely made the most of our time in Madrid, taking in the culture and competing against Spanish talent. BTM gave us exceptional service and cannot wait for next year.”

To find out more about our European Tours click here