Coastal men’s hoops team taking historic trip to Cuba

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The Coastal Carolina University men’s basketball program will embark on a truly unique experience this August as the Chanticleers become the first NCAA Division I team to both visit and play basketball games in Cuba, announced veteran head coach Cliff Ellis on Tuesday.

“This foreign tour to Cuba is a great honor for our program as the United States begins to open its relationship with Cuba,” said Ellis. “For us to be the first team to travel to Cuba is a testament to our success over the past several years. We will rely on NCAA tournament experiences to play competitive basketball against the Cuban’s top-notch national team.

“It is not only an opportunity to get additional time together as a team prior to opening the season, but also an immense educational experience for our student-athletes.”

The two-time defending Big South champion Chanticleers will depart campus for the island nation on Aug. 6 and return on Aug. 14. While in Cuba, the Chants will play three games against the Cuban National Team, ranked 58th in the current FIBA World Ranking, at Havana’s Sport City on Aug. 8, 9 and 11 (all tipoff times are set for 4 p.m. ET). The games will serve as Cuba’s final preparation before heading to Mexico for the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament.

In addition to game recaps, GoCCUSports.com and @GoCCUSports on Twitter will provide daily events, activities and behind the scenes access for this historic tour.

“This is a tremendous privilege for our program,” said Coastal Carolina Director of Athletics Matt Hogue. “Our student-athletes and staff are proud that they will be able to serve as ambassadors, not only for the University, but also for our country on this historic occasion.”

NCAA rules allow for a foreign tour by an intercollegiate team once every four academic years. Coastal’s tour is being managed by Sport Tours International.

“Coastal Carolina’s three games against the Cuban National Team in Havana will be the first time a Division I team has ever played in Cuba,” said Sport Tours International president Lee Frederick. “That the administration and basketball program accepted the invitation from the Cuban Federation is a testament to the program’s increasing prestige on the national stage.  It will be the trip of a lifetime for the student-athletes, and the seven days they spend on the island will change them forever.”

In addition to competing against the Cubans, Coastal student-athletes and coaches will conduct clinics for players and coaches in Havana and Matanzas, participate in various community service programs and tour the nation.

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