Moments before MacArthur guard Benny Orlando prepared to face the Danish All Stars for the final time in the annual season-opening Jeff Shaw Memorial Tournament, the senior found himself reflecting on the bigger picture within the international matchup.
“It’s been a good experience getting to spend time with them,” Orlando said after scoring 14 points and leading MacArthur to a 46-29 first-round home victory on Thursday night. “They’re cool kids that are just like us.”
Mike Manfredo, a senior forward who added 12 points, also touched on what the meetings with the Danish team has meant to him beyond the basketball court.
“Our cultures are different, and it’s nice learning how they live their life back in Denmark,” Manfredo said.
Early on, it was apparent that MacArthur required a few minutes to adjust to the superior height and length of the Danish roster. But once MacArthur found its comfort zone, there was no looking back.
Trent Knapp’s three-pointer from the right corner with 40 seconds remaining in the opening quarter set the tone, capping off a 15-0 run to put the Generals ahead 15-6. Leading 24-14 at the half and 37-20 entering the fourth, the Generals failed to relinquish their double-digit advantage in the second half.
MacArthur will host Bellmore JFK in the final at 7 p.m. Friday.
The slower pace and three-point oriented approach of the Danish team’s offense also ran contrary to the style MacArthur is typically accustomed to facing.
“It’s just a different style with different adjustments,” coach Eric Rubin said. “We play a lot of teams with a somewhat similar style, but it was interesting to face a team that really spreads you out and is a threat to shoot from 22 feet.”
“We were more athletic than them,” Orlando said. “We definitely used that to our advantage.”
The Danish All Stars, who began facing the Generals in 2012, also encountered struggles combatting MacArthur in the physicality department.
“In Denmark we’re pretty tall,” Danish forward Sebastian Holmboe said. “We’re not that strong, but we’re tall. Here they’re smaller and really strong. I think the power of their play really hurt us. I’ve learned that I need to build some muscles and get bigger.”
Holmboe spoke about the priceless nature of his team’s Long Island experience.
“This kind of trip is a trip that can’t really be bought,” he said. “I think it’s fantastic to go out and meet all these really kind people.”
“I think this was a great experience,” teammate Julius B. Edelved. “I love it here. A bit of traffic, but it’s OK..”
After finishing 5-14 last season, Rubin is confident that this MacArthur unit is primed for a bounce-back season.
“Overall, I think we’ll be OK,” Rubin said. “We have an athletic team with some promise. We have a ways to go but eventually we’ll get there.”