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Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The Lipscomb men's basketball team spent Wednesday traveling to the Dominican Republic for their foreign exhibition tour which runs through Tuesday, Aug. 16. This is the first of daily updates from the road with the Bisons.
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Wednesday morning was an early morning for the Bisons. The team was schedule to load the bus at 3:50 a.m. to catch a 6 a.m. American Airlines flight to Miami. Coach Sanderson always runs ahead of schedule and it was not surprising that the returning players were all present before the first newcomer arrived.
The check-in process was slower than normal at the airport. The first curveball was a "box ban" that had been instituted yesterday for all travelers to Central America and the Carribean. The oversized box carrying health kits and other items to be distributed at villages had to be broken down and distributed into any suitcase with extra space.
The first segment was on a 50-seat regional jet. For a team with several players standing six-foot-eight and taller, a two-hour flight on a regional jet can be a little unconfortable. But compared to the extreme poverty level we've already seen in the Dominican Republic, there is nothing for us to complain about. It did take freshman Stephen Hurt, who is 6-foot-10 and 285 pounds, about three attempts to figure out how to get into his seat though.
After arriving in Miami the team proceeded to the next gate area for the three hour wait for the connecting flight to Santo Domingo. Soon though there was a gate change and an equipment change - a downsize from a 767 to a 757. This caused American to have to reseat almost the whole flight and bump several people. Due to the changes, the flight didn't begin boarding until our scheduled 12:25 departure time.
Once everyone boarded and the plane was pushed away from the gate, the airport was shut down because of weather issues. After a little over an hour of waiting, the airport was finally opened but the departures didn't start quickly as planes were being spaced 20 miles apart.
The plane landed in Santo Domingo about 4:15 Eastern Time, about two hours behind schedule. It took another hour and a half to clear customs.
The team was met by representatives of Score International who scheduled the trip and will accompany the Bisons for the next week. Since most of the team hadn’t eaten since mid-morning, we proceeded directly to Score’s facility about 30 minutes from the airport were we ate dinner.
On the highway there appeared to be tiny mini-market every several hundred yards. And most of these markets couldn’t have been more than fifty square feet. They would be better described as “lemonade stands” than markets. There were also unfinished buildings everywhere. One couldn’t begin to count the number of construction projects that were never finished.
Score has several groups in the Dominican this week including collegiate volleyball and soccer teams, four high school basketball teams, and a church mission trip. Dinner consisted of chips, rice and beans served with lettuce, cheese and salsa.
At Score’s facility we recognized the security issues facing the country. Score had several guards with shot guns standing just feet from the dinner tables.
After dinner we proceeded to our hotel which also had similar private security guards with shot guns. The hotel is located in a gated compound that includes many mansions whose residents include many current Major League Baseball players.
The team met with David Conrady, national basketball director of Score, and Ron Bishop, founder of Score, upon their arrival at the hotel.
Thursday is a busy day for the Bisons. In the morning, the team will visit a village at a former sugar cane farm and at six p.m. central time the Bisons will play their first exhibition against Mauricio Baez in Santo Domingo.