Game day in Barcelona and then a visit to Sagrada Familia

By Jacob Johnston,
Augustana men’s basketball

Today was game day and the Augustana men’s basketball team is now 1-0 at the start of our European expedition.

We had an early start to our morning, with a great breakfast at our hotel, and then made our way to the gym for our first contest at 9:15 a.m..

Our opponent, the European Basketball Academy, had five Americans, so it wasn’t that much different than playing back in the United States. However, how the referees called the game was a pretty big adjustment for us. All you have to do is  ask junior Dylan Sortillo and sophomore Pierson Wofford as they got hit with a few travelling calls throughout the game.

The referees are much more strict on players footwork, which resulted in a lot of turnovers for us. Regardless, we played hard and together and came through with the win with the final score being 84-73.

After our game concluded, we headed back to our hotel to clean up, and then we had some free time to explore the area. With this time we went to local restaurants for lunch, and then went to the beach. The guys really enjoyed the beach and Mediterranean Sea is beautiful.

Following a couple of hours of viewing the city, we got back on the bus to downtown Barcelona for some site-seeing.

Our first stop was at Guell Park, located on the side of a mountain in Barcelona. Here we learned about famous architect Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi designed many of the houses of the affluent families in Spain and he lived and designed parts of Guell Park in the ladder years of his life. Gaudi’s focal points in his work were religion, nature, and function, and his work is very unique, so seeing it in the park was very interesting.

Once we finished touring the park, we went downtown to see the Sagrada Família which is an enormous church that Gaudi and other architects worked on. The structure is still being worked on today even though construction began in 1882, and by 2026 it will be completed and will be the tallest structure of Catholic worship in all of Europe. Sagrada Família was so large and unique that words and pictures don’t really do it justice, it was truly breathtaking.

This was our last stop for the day and we went back to the hotel afterward for dinner. That concluded day three of our journey and will continue tomorrow with a day of site-seeing and a game against another professional Spanish team, AE Boet Mataro.

Go Vikes!


Going shopping but looking for food

By Jacob Johnston,
Augustana men’s basketball

After a long day of traveling on Friday night, the Augustana men’s basketball team finally set foot in Spain. We spent all Friday night flying over the Atlantic Ocean on our way from Chicago to Madrid. Once we landed in Madrid, we quickly got on another plane to take a short flight to Barcelona.

After arriving in Barcelona we wasted no time and found our tour guide Han who took us to Las Ramblas via bus.

Las Ramblas is arguably the most famous shopping location in all of Catalonia (the state in northeast Spain in which Barcelona resides). This shopping location runs from the center of Barcelona all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Though this is a great place for tourists to shop, the number one thing on all of our minds was getting food in our respective stomachs.

We split up into smaller groups to look for any restaurant that looked appealing to us and got lunch. This was our first time trying authentic Spanish food, so we tried to get dishes we’d never had before. They ranged from squid, to lamb, to seafood paella (a rice based dish with a variety of different types of seafood). Following our lunches, we walked around Las Ramblas more seeing thousands of people and numerous shops.

After Las Ramblas, it was finally time to check into our hotel located in Castelldefels, which is basically a suburb of Barcelona. We didn’t spend much time at the hotel though, as we had a practice scheduled in the city of Cornella.

This practice was in preparation for tomorrow’s game scheduled for 9:15 a.m. against the European Basketball Academy. The academy is comprised of 19-22 year old players from Spain, Eastern Europe, and the United States. The players in this academy are trying to get professional basketball jobs in Spain, so they will surely be tough competition. It will be an early night for us so we can compete at the highest level in the game tomorrow morning and hopefully come out with a win.

Go Vikes!


Augustana gets jump on 2016-17

By Jacob Johnston

The 2016-2017 Augustana men’s basketball team’s Spain and Italy trip has officially begun!

We started practicing about three weeks ago to get us in shape and game ready. Like everything we do at Augustana, these practices were intense and competitive, but also fun since we knew we would soon be traveling to Europe.

Coach Giovanine even kept us in the spirit by playing classical Spanish and Italian music over the speakers before our morning practices. Some of the guys even practiced their dancing on the court before we began our actual basketball practice. Our pre-trip practices concluded on Wednesday, May 25, giving the guys Wednesday night and Thursday to go home, spend some time with family, and pack for the flight.

We planned to meet at O’Hare at 1:00 p.m. and everyone arrived early, except for senior Michael Hoekstra, who showed up at 1:01. After this delay (thanks Mike), we checked our bags and made our way through security. Thankfully this only took us about 50 minutes so we were able to relax and make it to our gate in plenty of time. At our gate, assistant coach Tom Jessee surprised us with nice, new Augustana basketball shirts to wear and make us easily identifiable. We took a picture and sat down waiting for our flight to board.

The closer we get to boarding our flight the more excited the guys were getting. This will be the first time out of the country for many of the players and the first time on a plane for junior Sean Anger, so he was a little nervous.

We are expecting to land in Madrid, Spain around 7:30 a.m. (our body time), and then we are flying into Barcelona, Spain arriving around 11 a.m. Once we land, we go straight into touring the city with some free time to explore. We will then have a short practice as we have our first game Sunday, May 29 against the European Basketball Academy, which trains young athletes to become professional players.

This will be our first challenge as a team, and the guys are excited for the opportunity. Barcelona here we come!

Go Vikes!