PBA Basketball Teams Continue Trip of a Lifetime to Costa Rica

Blog by: David Balza, PBA Head Men's Basketball Coach

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA- The Sailfish basketball teams continue to keep a busy schedule of competition and serving as they participate in a summer missions trip. Read below as head men’s basketball coach David Balza shares about the teams’ experiences so far.

Written by: David Balza, PBA Head Men's Basketball Coach

The PBA Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams have had a busy first couple days in Costa Rica. Day 1 began bright and early Monday morning at 5:30 am. After a 3-hour flight and a two hour time change, the Sailfish landed in San Jose, where they met their host Ricardo Rodriguez and his staff, David Chacon & Ronald Perez.  The teams checked into the High Performance Sports Center, where they will be based most of the week.

After a quick lunch, they hustled right out the door to their first free clinic which they conducted at the Colegio Deportivo Santo Domingo.  Coach Balza, Coach Palacio and the student-athletes led the 100+ kids in attendance through an afternoon of drills. Then it was off to their first games of the week.

Both teams took on the Heredia Latinas. The long day took its toll on the Lady Sailfish early, but they went into the half up by one. Junior Ayanna Holmes and sophomores Darsan DeShazier and Hannah Grim led the way in the second half as PBA pulled away to win 60-47.

The men’s game allowed Coach Balza and new assistant coach Allen Corbin their first live look at a host of rookies. As a side note, this is the first year the NCAA has allowed newcomers in Division II to go on summer tours with their new teams.  It was a couple veterans that looked good early, as senior Michael Simpson and red-shirt sophomore Cory Kenning got off to a fast start. This was Kenning’s first game action since fracturing his foot in the exhibition game last season. In the end, though, it was the freshmen who led the Sailfish to victory in Game 1.  Malek Barber and Bakari Warthen led five double figure scorers with 13 apiece.  Redshirt freshman Trey Koonce from First Baptist Academy was named Player of the Game for his defensive hustle and double-double with 12 points and a game-high 14 boards. Simpson and sophomore Dakota Zinser were the other scorers in double figures with 11. Senior transfer Giles Chapman and freshman Barber led in assists with four apiece.

The games ended after midnight eastern time. After a late night dinner at the HPS, a long productive first day came to an end as the Fish didn’t take long to fall asleep. 

Day 2 was an early morning as well, as the PBA teams were slated to head across the country for Tuesday night’s game against Liberia in the northwestern Guanacaste region. After a good breakfast, the teams loaded two busses and set off on the longest journey of their trip. The six hour drive through the mountains and up the coast was long, but the views of the Pacific Ocean from their hotel rooms that night made the journey worthwhile. Seeing the sunset over the Pacific, which occurs around 6 pm local time we should note, was a highlight for many of us. We had less than an hour to take in the sights, though, before it was off to Game 2.

The women’s team showed no ill effects from the bus ride, getting off to a very fast start. They ran away from the host Liberia Club team early, putting them away by a final score of 56-29.  The lopsided score allowed all 14 players ample opportunity to play. The Sailfish were led by senior Nina Krstic with 17 points.

The men’s team on the other hand struggled early, perhaps showing fatigue from the previous 36 hours.  They also had their hands full with Liberia’s 6’8, 285 pound center, especially after 6’9 sophomore Cory  Kenning picked up his third foul early in the second quarter. 6’5 freshman Malek Barber and 6’6 freshman Trey Koonce battled admirably in the post and 6’3 sophomore Dakota Zinser led PBA in rebounding on the night with 5.

The three youngsters helped the Sailfish gain a 30-25 advantage at the half. It was all Fish in the second half, as PBA pulled away to a 63-41 win over Liberia. Once again, freshman Trey Koonce came up big, finishing with 12 points and three rebounds. Fellow freshman Bakari Warthen was named Player of the Game for his well-rounded 10 points, four rebounds, three steals and team-high four assists. Freshman Casey Carpinello from Boca Christian High School chipped in with 11 points, three rebounds and two assists.

The owner of the Liberia team invited our 34-person group to his restaurant for a post-game meal, which we promptly devoured. The teams returned to Hotel Ocotel, where despite the long day, found time to enjoy some late night fellowship and hijinks. The witching hour was highlighted by a midnight dip in the ocean for some, a run-in with some hungry raccoons and some persistent bugs, as well as a late-night pizza run.

All in all, we enjoyed a couple of very blessed first days in Costa Rica and look forward to the rest of our trip.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter for timely updates on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Coach Balza

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