The fourth day in Spain for the Princeton men's basketball team delivered the Tigers' first win as Princeton defeated CB Prat, a Spanish third-division team, 66-61 in Sant Julia de Vilatorta, about an hour north of Barcelona.
The contest was a tight one throughout, and Princeton was only able to ice the victory after a Prat turnover with 10 seconds left that handed the ball back to Princeton. Mack Darrow hit two free throws to make it a two-possession game as well as create the final margin.
Ian Hummer was the highest-rated player on the court for the second straight game according to his efficiency total of 26, as the senior forward went 9 of 16 from the field, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots. The efficency valuation, a stat not usually calculated in NCAA play, adds a player's points, rebounds assists, steals, blocks and fouls drawn, taking away points for missed field goals and free throws, turnover, getting shots blocked and committing fouls.
Junior forward Will Barrett grabbed 13 rebounds in his second game back after missing most of last season due to injury, scoring seven points, while senior center Brendan Connolly added 12 points and junior guard Chris Clement 10.
Unlike Friday's opponent, Assignia Manresa, CB Prat had no American players. The Spanish club used all 12 on its bench, as 21-year-old Spaniard Gerbert Marti led his team with 11 points.
Princeton outrebounded CB Prat 42-37 and limited the Spanish team to 36 percent shooting (14 of 39) while shooting 48 percent (26 of 54) for its own part. Both teams left plenty of points at the free throw line, Princeton going 11 of 22 and CB Prat 12 of 24.
Sunday night, the Tigers head to the nearly 100,000-seat Camp Nou, home since 1957 to the FC Barcelona soccer team, to see Barcelona's 1-0 win over Valencia.
While there, the team met basketball alumnus Judson Wallace '05 (second from right, below), who just began the preseason of his second campaign with the FC Barcelona Regal basketball team.
Below, Sunday's entries in the daily blog series, first by junior guard T.J. Bray and then by sophomore forward Denton Koon.
The first half of our day yesterday was one of the more laid-back parts of the trip. Our game was at 12:45 so there wasn't much time for sightseeing during the day. Everyone was on the bus early and we didn't get back to the hotel until 5:00. This didn't leave us much time to explore more of Barcelona than we already had.
Coming off of the loss on Friday, we needed to play much better if we expected to win against a pro team. Although we played very sloppy against Manresa, we gained a lot of confidence competing we a first-division team from wire to wire. We played much better yesterday and we able to come out with the win. Our offense looked much more cohesive as a unit and defensively we're making progress. I'm excited to see how things continue to come together in our last two games over here.
Although we were staying in Barcelona, our games were about an hour away from the city. The drives were long but they were a nice chance to see more than just Barcelona. The drive was filled with mountains which created some beautiful landscapes. The Spanish suburbs were also fantastic to see. The games were in a town that was described to us as a summer getaway town and had some amazing Spanish architecture. The houses were all gigantic and much different than anything you'd normally see in the United States. Spain would definitely be a nice place to get away in the future.
After we got back from our game we had a few hours before the FC Barcelona vs. Valencia match. Everyone grabbed food and the anticipation of the match began to build for us. Once the bus got close to the stadium there were swarms of people every where you looked (with seemingly all of them in Leo Messi jerseys). We couldn't get the bus close to the stadium so we had to walk for 20 minutes to get to our gate. I'll let Denton [Koon] take it from here.
It was quite the spectacle as we entered the 99,000 capacity stadium that played host for one of the most memorable moments of my life. With around half of the team and coaching staff outfitted in recently purchased FC Barcelona gear, we were definitely prepared for the European soccer experience. When we entered our section we all headed down to the field level to snap a few pre game pics with the team. Most of the seats were paired in groups of two, and I had the pleasure of being accompanied by a constant form of entertainment, a man you know all know as TJ Bray.
Traditionally I consider myself a fan of the higher scoring sports like basketball or American football, but I can admit that the fùtbol game was amazing in every way. The fans are so appreciative of every little pass and movement throughout the game. The height of my excitement came in the 21st minute when Barcelona had an attempt at a corner kick. With superstar Lionel Messi playing as a decoy, defender Adriano received a pass and struck a right-footed shot into the upper 90 on the right side of the goal. Fortunately I had just pulled out my camera phone and caught a video of the entire play and ensuing reaction of the crowd.
The almost capacity crowd erupted in indescribable fashion and the home team had taken the lead. There were a few opportunities late in the second half for Messi to score, but it just wasn't to be and the game concluded at 1-0. It was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life and I'm sure the same would be said for everyone else on the team as well. Not enough can be said on the behalf of anyone who helped make this trip possible. Now it's on to Valencia for phase two of our Spanish tour! I can't wait to see what's in store from here on out!