After embarking across the Atlantic Ocean, the Sixers took the court Friday to practice in the Spanish city of Bilbao. The team has a pair of games on its international slate prior to returning for preseason action in North America.
Not one Sixer on the roster was present when the team last made the trek to Europe in 2006 -- longest-tenured player Thaddeus Young was not be drafted until June 2007. As such, the young team finds the trip to be a unique experience.
“It’s definitely cool, somewhat unreal, to go across the waters and see yourself marketed,” Evan Turner said in an interview with Sixers.com. “This whole thing is a fun experience, and I think it’ll be fun in the end. I’m just glad to be here.”
The Sixers are not the only squad from the NBA to play games in Europe as part of the Global Games initiative, as 11 other teams crossed the pond (including the Oklahoma City Thunder, who the Sixers are set to face Tuesday in Manchester, England). Some may believe that the international exposure would add a bit of pressure, but Turner disagrees.
“No pressure, all fun," Turner said. “It’s all about leading and helping my teammates out. We’re going to come out and compete, and make the most of it.”
The Sixers are set to face Bilbao Basket on Sunday -- a matchup Turner does not want to underestimate. While Turner does not feel added pressure from playing an international squad, he still sees them as tough competition to go up against.
“They play well and they play hard,” Turner said. “Anytime you play against them, you have to really come out and play because they play to win."
Bilbao may not be a team with a style the Sixers regularly see, but it will be a good test for a young team and rookie Michael Carter-Williams, who has been standing out to the fourth-year Turner, being described as “getting better each day.”
While the trip proves to be a chance for the Sixers to face formidable competition in foreign markets, it’s also another chance for the team to bond.
“That’s what it takes right now, and it’s just me and the team together right now,” Turner said. “We set our standards -- that’s playing hard and competing, and just setting a main foundation.”
The Sixers will return home to face the Boston Celtics in preseason action on Oct. 11 in Newark, Del.