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Flames Basketball Foreign Tour Blog Day 4 - Game 3
Day 4 – The Liberty men's basketball team received a much needed rest from their hectic schedule, Thursday morning. Head coach Dale Layer and his squad left Brussels around noon (Central European time) and set out for the city of Ghent.
A trio of antique buildings highlighted the Flames' tour in the Flemish city. After receiving some time to walk the city streets, the team visited Het Gravensteen (Castle of the Counts). This 12th century castle served as the residence of a number of noblemen, including Baldwin I, the first count to occupy the magnificent structure.
Leaving the castle, the Flames passed by the Belfry of Ghent, a 14th century watchtower that was completed in 1386. Sitting atop the belfry is the famous weathervane, the Golden Dragon. Not the typical weathervane, the Golden Dragon may look small from the top of the tower, but looks are deceiving. It is estimated that the weathervane is actually the size of a mid-sized car. For more on the story behind the Golden Dragon, be sure to check out the Day 3 blog.
Right across from the belfry sits the final historical stop on the Flames' tour of Ghent, the St. Baafskathedral (St. Bavo Cathedral). Considered the patron saint of Ghent, Bavo was once a nobleman and soldier who traded in slavery. Known for having a lavish lifestyle, Bavo was spiritually convicted upon hearing a monk's sermon on the emptiness of materialism. As a result, he gave his money and possessions away, building an abbey for the monks.
As the story goes, Bavo came in contact with one of his former slaves after his spiritual transformation and asked the slave to bind him in chains and lead him to jail.
After touring the cathedral's sanctuary and crypts, the team stopped at Bridge, a local restaurant, and sat down to a delicious pregame meal of spaghetti and lasagna before heading to Sijsele, Belgium for their third exhibition game.
Flames Garner Third Exhibition Win in Belgium
Despite facing its toughest test during its international tour, the Liberty men's basketball team hung on to defeat Zwevezele, 79-66, moving to 3-0 in exhibition play.
John Brown paced the Flames with 16 points and nine rebounds, while John Caleb Sanders knocked down five three-pointers to finish with 15. Jesse Sanders chipped in 12 points and six assists. Burrus also concluded the contest with 12 points, adding eight boards to his scoring effort.
The Flames trailed for the first time since arriving in Belgium, when a Zwevezele player knocked down a three-pointer to give Liberty's opponent a 9-7 lead at the 7:30 mark. John Caleb Sanders answered the challenge with two straight treys of his own to give the Flames a 13-9 advantage at 5:25.
Zwevezele reclaimed a two-point edge in the final minutes of the quarter. After a Brown free throw put the Flames within one, Burrus connected on a put back moments later to give Liberty a 24-23 lead at the end of the period.
Liberty began to create distance between itself and the Belgian club in the second 10-minute period. John Brown opened the quarter with six unanswered points to increase the advantage to seven, 30-23.
With the Flames holding a 10-point advantage at the 1:11 mark, Tavares Speaks helped Liberty widen the gap with back-to-back steals converted into buckets. After the transfer connected on a fast break layup,
Speaks snatched the rock again, passing it to an open Jesse Sanders, who dished it to Burrus for the one-handed jam. The Flames tacked on another field goal in the closing moments of the half, giving way to a 49-33 halftime lead.
Burrus closed out the opening half with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and two free throws. The rising junior also had five rebounds to accompany his scoring total. John Caleb Sanders finished the first 20 minutes with nine points, hitting all three of his shots from downtown, while Speaks chipped in 8 tallies.
Zwevezele was not deterred by the 16-point deficit entering the third quarter, as the club climbed back in the contest with an 11-1 run in the opening five minutes of the period.
Thanks to a pair of buckets by Brown, the Flames were able to regain their composure. However, as a result of the Belgian team's surge, Zwevezele was able to cut the Liberty lead to six, 62-56, at the end of the quarter.
In the final 10-minute period, Zwevezele climbed within one possession of the Flames when a player nailed a three-pointer to make it 64-61 with 7:30 remaining.
John Caleb Sanders gave the Flames an eight-point lead with just over four minutes left, hitting his fourth three-pointer of the game to put the Flames ahead, 71-63. With 1:40 on the clock, the sophomore connected on another trey from the opposite corner, putting the Flames up by 12.
Thanks to sharpshooting and stifling defense in the closing minutes, the Flames hung on for the 79-66 final.
Before heading to France, the Flames close out the Belgian portion of their six-game exhibition tour against the Brussels All-Stars. Game time is slated for 8 p.m. (Central European time).