2k8 International Tour, Day 4: Rome

From February 21st through March 3rd, a group from Jordan Brand will travel to Europe to select 12 players for the inaugural International Game as part of the Jordan Brand Classic on Saturday, April 19th at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  The following is a blog and daily photo gallery from Kevin Foley, who will be along for the trip.

Rome (February 26): Another early start, but our staff was fired up to get back on the basketball court in a new city.  We all met for early breakfast in the hotel.  A simple continental breakfast in Rome includes homemade chocolate croissants, fresh fruit, a wide-selection of meat and cheese, to-die-for bread baskets and dozens of other amazing options.

We were all pretty amazed when we arrived at the Palapostepay gymnasium for the camp.  It has such a cool look and intimate feel to it -- take this from someone who has been in a lot of gyms and arenas.  The best part was the DJ.  From the moment you walk in the facility, you just can't stop moving.  Seriously.  Once again, Tim Grover started off the session with our strength and conditioning drills.  For two hours the kids pushed themselves hard and were dripping with sweat -- and never shot a basketball once.  You could tell that they were all really impressed with the techniques on how to truly get their bodies in basketball shape.

For lunch, we walked down the street as a group to a nearby family restaurant.  They served us an incredible bowl of rigatoni pasta and bread.  Oh wait, and then a main course of chicken and potatoes.  You have to love Italy.  I sat with a player from Bosnia and one from Montenegro -- and two Italian members of the media.  We all talked about different basketball customs and interesting facts about our countries.  It is pretty interesting to listen to different perspectives.  The NBA, for example, is never on television in most countries in Europe, but these die-hard players are glued to local news reports just to watch the nightly highlight reel on American sports.

Ganon Baker ran the afternoon session focusing on basketball skill development.  It is pretty evident why the global term of paparazzi is from Italy.  The media were everywhere -- and when I say everywhere, all over the court in the middle of his drills.  If someone did something noteworthy, instant cameras.  Following the session, Ganon showed a DVD of Michael Jordan's greatest moves and broke them down individually.  As he put it, it's not necessarily how they were finished, but what he did to start them that all of the kids should take notes on.

The night finished off with our first round of games.  There are truly some outstanding players from this region of the Europe.  Like a lot of European players, it is incredible to see such tall kids with the skills and outside shooting touch of guards.  Another great day in Rome.  We will be holding our All-Star game and select the four MVPs tomorrow.

We arrived at the Palaposteplay on Tuesday am.