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Flames Hoops to Compete in Belgium and France

August 4, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Joel Vander Pol (left), Antwan Burrus (right) and the rest of the Flames will board a plane on Monday to head to Belgium for a nine-day tour through Belgium and France.

With the 2011-12 men's basketball season just over three months away, head coach Dale Layer and the Liberty Flames have a special opportunity to come together as a team this summer.

Monday, the team will board a plane at Dulles Airport and land in Brussels, Belgium for the beginning of a nine-day adventure through parts of Belgium and France.

Every four years, the NCAA allows teams to travel abroad to compete against various international squads. In 2007, the Flames journeyed to Ontario, Canada, picking up exhibition wins over Brock and Guelph University.

This year's jaunt is expected to be a much different experience for the Flames, as they will compete in six games within the two countries while also taking time to learn about European culture through a variety of walking tours. 

"It's a real treat," Layer stated when describing the upcoming tour. "It combines academics, basketball and spiritual input in a nine-day trip. It's going to be an experience these guys will never forget. A lot of planning and work has gone into this and we're excited about the opportunity."

The Flames will spend five days In Belgium, squaring off with four professional clubs – Excelsior (Aug. 10), Oostkamp (Aug. 11), Zwevezele (Aug. 12) and Brussels (Aug. 13). Liberty will then head to France on Aug. 14, before playing Kaysersberg (Aug. 15) and Mulhouse (Aug. 16).

"There are a lot of different levels of professional teams we will be playing," Layer noted. "They will all be at the beginning of their training camp, so they will just be getting going."

Layer added, "We'll run into all different levels – some teams that have just started [practicing this season] and don't have their whole team together yet and others that have been rolling for a week and feel pretty good about things. Once you show up, you kind of know what you're getting, but until that point it's only speculative."

In preparation for the expedition, the Flames were allotted 10 days to practice as a team. Liberty opened with a four-day mini-camp in July and will conclude its prep time this week with six straight practice sessions. Overall, Layer says he is pleased with what he's seen from veteran players, as well as newcomers assimilating into program.

"They've worked hard," Layer said.  "They've had good attitudes and we've made some progress, and that's all you can expect this time of year."

During the nine-day excursion, LibertyFlames.com will follow the men's basketball team as it travels through Belgium and France, providing a daily blog complete with videos and photo galleries. Be sure to check back with the website tomorrow for an exclusive video, featuring an in-depth look at the Flames' preparation for their summer tour.

Flames Basketball 2011 Summer Tour Schedule
Date      Opponent          Location
8/10      Excelsior          Brussels, Belgium
8/11      Oostkamp        Sijsele, Belgium
8/12      Zwevezele       Sijsele, Belgium
8/13      Brussels           Brussels, Belgium
8/15      Kaysersberg    Kaysersberg, France
8/16      Mulhouse         Mulhouse, France