BARCELONA, Spain – The Troy men’s basketball team has enjoyed tremendous success during its first three games in Spain, going 3-0 and averaging nearly 85 points per game along the way.
“The guys are really playing hard, competing and sticking together,” said head coach Phil Cunningham. “We threw a lot of new things at them in the 10 days of practice before the trip and they have responded well.”
Troy opened up the trip with an 87-67 win over CB Sant Nicholas. The game was close at the half, but the Trojans pulled away in the second to take the 20-point win, with five players scoring in double figures. Hunter Williams hit 4-of-8 3-pointers on his way to a team-high 20 points. He added five rebounds and 10 assists, including seven dimes and no turnovers in the second half. Wes Hinton picked up what would be his first of three consecutive double-doubles, finishing with 16 points and 11 boards. Deonata Jethroe scored 13 points, while both Tevin Calhoun and Antoine Myers scored 12. As a team, the Trojans shot 55.7 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Game two saw a different start for Troy, as the Trojans took a 22-point lead over Catalunya 68 into the break. Again, five Trojans reached double figures, this time led by Hinton, who scored 18 points and grabbed 13 boards. Williams and Calhoun each chipped in 15 points, while Myers and Jeff Mullahey added 11 points apiece. The Trojans cooled off a bit from their first game, finishing at 47 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from range.
The third game of the trip brought the toughest competition, in Barcelona Select 76. Troy led by 10 at the break but saw its lead disappear midway through the second half. After a few minutes of back-and-forth action, a 3-pointer by Williams with seven minutes remaining gave the Trojans a two point lead that they would not relinquish, going on to win 81-76. Hinton had another tremendous performance, shooting 10-of-13 from the field, including 2-of-2 from deep, and finishing with 24 points, 14 rebounds and three steals. Myers celebrated his birthday with the highlight of the trip, a transition dunk over a Barcelona Select defender. He would go on to score 17 points, grab five boards and dish out three assists. Williams had a stellar performance on the day, scoring 16 points, dropping eight dimes, tearing down six boards and grabbing five steals.
“We definitely needed a game like the last one against Barcelona Select though,” Cunninhgam said. “Where we got challenged by some older, more experienced and physical players. It was a tight game that could have gone either way down the stretch, but our guys showed some toughness in pulling out a win.
“Three games in three days turned out to be a heckuva physical and mental test, but what we really need right now is a team capable of knocking us on our heels from an athleticism and talent standpoint. From everything we’ve been told, we’re about to get just that kind of a challenge in our final two games in Gran Canaria on Wednesday and Friday. So everyone is naturally excited about playing those last two games.”
Through three games, the Trojans are shooting 50.5 percent from the field, including 39.1 percent from 3-point range.
Off the court, the team has used its free time to develop a greater team dynamic while enjoying the experience to the fullest.
“Our coaching staff has been impressed by the togetherness of our team so far on the trip,” said Cunningham. “The guys seem to enjoy being around each other and look to do things as a group. After breakfast today, they all rented bikes and rode down to the sea, which is probably a 15-20 minute ride. They had to be pretty tired from the previous two nights’ games, but it was good to see them choose to get out of the hotel as a team and enjoy checking out such an exciting city. Hopefully that togetherness will carry over to the court.”
The Trojans now head to Gran Canaria to finish out their trip with two more games, on Wednesday and Friday.