Coastal begins preparations for basketball tour of Cuba

ccuhoops-wilsonThe Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team, set to begin its ninth season under head coach Cliff Ellis, held its first of 10 practices on Tuesday in preparation for the program’s foreign tour to Cuba.

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.

This the first time under Ellis that Coastal Carolina has taken advantage of an NCAA rule that allows basketball programs to go on an international trip once every four years. The Chanticleers are allowed 10 days of practice prior to departing on Aug. 6.

“This trip is a great opportunity for the coaching staff to assess what kind of team we are capable of becoming,” said Ellis.

“With 10 players returning from last season’s NCAA Tournament team combined with our newcomers, we should have a very competitive environment during our 10 practice days. We plan to go over our offensive and defensive concepts and institute a mindset as to how we want to compete this season.”

The Chants return four starters from last season’s team, including guards Shivaughn Wiggins and Big South Tournament MVP Elijah Wilson along with frontcourt mates Badou Diagne and Tristian Curtis. Also back for the Chants for the 2015-16 campaign are key contributors Marcus Freeman, Michel Enanga and Colton Ray-St Cyr.

In addition to the 10 returning veterans, freshman newcomers Christian Adams, Josh Coleman and Kevin Holmes, Jr. — each of whom are enrolled in classes — are also in practice.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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