Florida Tech Men’s Basketball Set to Embark On 10-Day Tour of London

By  //  August 6, 2015

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the trip begins today

On Wednesday, Aug. 5, the Florida Tech men's basketball team sets off for a 10-day tour of London, England. The Panthers will take play six games and take in plenty of culture during their excursion across the pond. (Florida Tech image)
On Wednesday, Aug. 5, the Florida Tech men’s basketball team sets off for a 10-day tour of London, England. The Panthers will take play six games and take in plenty of culture during their excursion across the pond. (Florida Tech image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Once just a thought has now come into fruition as an opportunity for Florida Tech’s men’s basketball team.

On Wednesday, the Panthers will embark on a once in a lifetime experience to play basketball and tour the historic city of London, England from Aug. 6-16.

Head coach Billy Mims, with the help of a former player, organized this amazing trip for the team.

“The whole idea started a couple years ago between one of my former players Pete Deppisch and me,” said Mims.

“Pete played for me when I coached the London Leopards and the Leicester Riders, and is now the head basketball coach at Brunel University in London. He approached me about bringing his team on a tour of America, so we spent a year trying to put that together, and last November it became a reality.

I organized a tour of several games for Brunel against us and other Sunshine State Conference teams and it turned out to be a fantastic experience for Pete and his squad.”

“This summer Brunel is reciprocating by hosting Florida Tech on campus for its entire trip,” said Mims

The Panthers are bringing a roster of 12 players to London. FIT’s depth chart will feature nine returners, including two-time Sunshine State Conference Defensive Player of the Year Corbin Jackson and 2015 Division II Bulletin All-Freshman Team selection Jordan Majors.

Three newcomers, Kyle Peel,Derek Murphy and the 2014-15 Western State Conference Player of the Year Rafael Casanova, will be donning the Crimson and Gray for the first time in London.

Billy Mims
Billy Mims

“A tour like this is an amazing benefit to our program”, Mims stated.

“The guys will have the chance to play international basketball, something most of the team has not done before now. Unlike the U.S., the rest of the world follows FIBA rules. Fortunately we have guys like Rafael Casanova (Seville, Spain) and Miki Rajovic (Podgorica, Montenegro) who have experience playing international ball. Rafael and Miki have been instrumental in helping the rest of the team learn and prepare for the differences in gameplay they will experience over in London.”

Scheduled on the Panthers’ itinerary are numerous sightseeing tours, one basketball tournament and four other exhibition games. Upon landing at the London Gatwick Airport on Thursday morning, Aug. 6, the team will get a chance to experience some royal treatment when they visit Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest castle in the world, and the summer residence of the Queen of England.

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The next day, the team will have the opportunity to tour the Sky Sports Studios at British Sky Broadcasting.

While touring the studio, the players will get a behind the scenes look into what it takes to operate the leading sports entertainment network in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Saturday marks the start of the Tournament at Brunel University, which features Florida Tech, the English Basketball League (EBL) Division I Champion Levett Essex Leopards, London Westside and host Brunel.

FIT opens the tournament against the Leopards at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Depending on the Panthers’ result in the first round, the team will face either Brunel or London Westside in the consolation/championship game on Sunday at 12 p.m. or 2 p.m. ET, respectively.

On Monday, the team will jump on the “Tube” in the London Underground and spend the day sightseeing around Central London.

The players will get the explore the traditional tourist attractions, such as Piccadilly Circus, Big Ben, The Museum of Natural History, Parliament and #10 Downing Street. Mims also scheduled a double-decker bus tour that will take the team around Central London and teach them about the history of the city.

The following evening the Panthers take on the EBL1’s Barking Abbey at 1 p.m. ET at the Barking Abbey Leisure Center in Barking Abbey. This borough of London is home to a former starting point guard on the FIT women’s basketball team, Rosie Hynes, who played her club ball in Barking.

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Wednesday will be the final scheduled touring day as the Panthers are heading to Wembley, London. There the team will get a tour of one of the most innovative and pristine arenas in the world, Wembley Stadium, home to the English National Football Team and many other major events, including three National Football League games in 2015.

The Panthers end their trip with three games in three days. On Thursday, Aug. 13, FIT will face the EBL1’s London Lithuanika at 3 p.m. ET at the University of East London.

Florida Tech heads down the road to Hornchurch Arena for a Friday matchup with the Division 4’s Dagenham Dragons at 4 p.m. ET. On Saturday the Panthers close out the trip against the EBL3’s Thames Valley Cavaliers. Location and time for the game versus Thames Valley is to be determined.

Sunday the team heads back to London Gatwick Airport for a restful flight back to Florida.

“It’s an incredible educational opportunity for our team, not only in terms of basketball but in terms of culture as well,” Mims said.

“Basketball-wise, what we get out of this trip is the opportunity to bring the team together in the summer to practice, develop chemistry and get a jump on learning the offense and our system. We pretty much gain an extra month of preparation for the 2015-16 season.

Culturally, a lot of these players have never been outside the United States before, and this is the first time to open their eyes to the world. It’s a great cultural experience for these guys, historically, architecturally, sports-wise and food-wise. I’ve joked several times that these 10 days will be the best Western Civ. class they will ever take in their life.”