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Flames Basketball Foreign Tour Blog Day 2 - Game 1
Be sure to view complete photo galleries at the bottom of this page. Special thanks go out to Donna Barber, wife of Director of Athletics Jeff Barber, for providing most of the pictures of the game gallery.
Day 2 – While there may be some degree of culture shock, the Liberty men's basketball team appears to be settling into their new surroundings nicely. After a 9:30 a.m. breakfast, the team heard a brief but encouraging message from Fred Young. A longtime friend of head coach Dale Layer, Young operates a sports ministry in Brussels, helping place Belgian players in the United States to play collegiate basketball.
Following the message, the team set out for another walking tour. The first stop was Cathedral St. Michael et Gudule, Belgium's premiere gothic structure. This particular cathedral is known for hosting the country's royal weddings.
The next stop was Eglise St. Jaques-sur-Coudenberg Church, a large neo-classical building that is as old as the United States. With its foundation laid in February of 1776, the church served as the site of the coronation of King Leopold I, Belgium's first king. Prior to Leopold's reign, Belgium was a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
From the church, the Flames visited the Godefroi of Bouillon Statue, a Frankish knight who led the first Crusade. The main picture accompanying this blog depicts John Caleb Sanders, Chene Phillips and Sommy Ogukwe in front of the statue, each displaying a degree of toughness on their face that could be labeled "Godefroiesque."
After taking numerous pictures next to the statue, the players then visited the Royal Palace. The Belgian flag flew high at the palace today, indicating that the current king of Belgium is physically within the country's borders. Upon completing the palace tour, the Flames ended today's stroll with a walk through the Place du Petit Gardens. The team then returned to the hotel to rest before their first exhibition game.
Flames Defeat Excelsior in Brussels, 81-53
Making their international debut on Wednesday, the Liberty Flames men's basketball team did not disappoint, defeating Excelsior inside Omnisport Gymnasium, 81-53.
Jesse Sanders led the Flames with 16 points, hitting 7-of-8 shots from the field and 2-of-3 from the charity stripe. The senior point guard also chipped in six assists. David Minaya recorded 14 tallies on the night, while John Brown finished with a double-double, posting 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting along with 11 rebounds. Brown also tied Sanders' assist total with six.
Other Liberty players with a solid scoring performance on the night included Chene Phillips (9) and Antwan Burrus (8).
The Flames came out showing very little offseason rust, jumping out to an early 13-0 lead in the opening 4:07. Liberty continued to maintain a solid advantage throughout the first quarter. Chene Phillips knocked down a buzzer beating jumper at the end of the stanza to give the Flames a 21-9 edge.
In the second quarter, the Flames held on to their 12-point lead. A thunderous fast break dunk by Brown followed by back-to-back buckets by Sanders allowed Liberty to lead 45-33 at halftime. Sanders finished the first half with 6-of-6 shooting from the field.
After a 15-minute intermission, Liberty began to pull away further from the Belgium club. A Sommy Ogukwe layup at the end of the third quarter gave the Flames a 67-47 bulge.
During the final 10-minute quarter, the Flames closed out the contest with big three-pointers from Hart
Gliedman and Ethan Layer to take the game, 81-53.
The Flames return to action tomorrow night against Oostkamp in Sijsele, Belgium at 8:30 p.m. (Belgian time).