ORANGE, Texas — It was show time in Orange, Tx when the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears hosted their 4th annual International Paper Classic. This year it attracted the Southern Peninsula Sharks straight out of Australia.
“We’ll play a number of games and tournaments” Sharks coach Ben White said. “Here is one of the tournaments we heard about that was gonna be really strong competition and it has been so far.”
The Sharks were in Texas for two weeks competing in tournaments to gain exposure and experience against some Lone Star talent.
“We have a couple boys that want to pursue college scholarships over here and come back here one day, and then others that want to pursue pathways back at home,” said Coach White. “Just get experience overseas, playing different players, and getting exposure.”
“Just like the experience in general,” 17-year-old Corey Hastings said. “I think I want to come back for college but at the moment seeing these towns is such a unique experience, and being here with these guys as well, it’s super special to share with them.”
The team says the biggest in-game differences between here and Australia are the shot clock and the strength and agility that southeast Texas players possess.
“They play very slow and passive where we play fast and quick so in Australia we have a shot clock for all the games, here they can dribble out the ball for a while,” 17-year-old Riley Dunn said. “It’s good to play against different styles.”
“In terms of the stadium and stuff it’s pretty similar, but the style of basketball is pretty different,” Hastings said. “We play a lot quicker back home I’m Australia. It’s pretty slow here and a lot more methodical, and the guys over here are definitely a lot stronger and quicker, so it’s definitely different playing here compared to back home.”
Even though the Sharks came to compete against the home team, they still were greeted with southern hospitality
“Just meeting all the new people,” Dunn said. “They’re good fun.”
“The people seem really cool as well like initially we came in everyone was super nice, super open, it was really cool to see,” Hastings said.
The Sharks went 2-1 in the tournament beating Anahuac and PNG but the Bears battled to win against their international visitors, 54 to 53.