basketball Edit

Pearl: Israel 'once-in-a-lifetime trip' for Tigers

Bruce Pearl has plenty of sight-seeing opportunities for his team on their trip to Israel, but the Auburn coach has one critical piece of advice: don't fart in the Dead Sea.

"I didn't believe it, so I tried it," Pearl said. "You don't want to get the salt in your eyes or on the other end."

Point noted.

The Tigers leave Saturday for what Pearl says is a "once-in-a-lifetime trip," going to the country where many religions were founded. The itinerary includes the City of David, Western Wall, Garden of Gethsemane, Jordan River and many other historical sites, along with a trip to Tel Aviv. Oh, and some basketball games are to be played against quality competition.

Bruce Pearl and Auburn travel to Israel for a three-game trip.
Bruce Pearl and Auburn travel to Israel for a three-game trip. (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The most challenging game, per Pearl, will be the last when the Tigers battle the Israel National Team full of professional players, including Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards. Pearl plans on switching up his lineup during the three games, and each player will see plenty of minutes, though it won't help ultimately decide who will become the go-to players for this upcoming season.

"I'm not trying to determine who my best players are right this second," Pearl said. "It wouldn't be fair as they have plenty of time to show who they will be."

The coach knows how big of a bonding experience this will be, with his players stepping out of their comfort zone, stating that it becomes a small world when you find yourself in a foreign country. Along with the planned sites, Pearl wants his players to witness the country alone.

"You've got to let them experience it," Pearl said, noting the best thing the team will do is walk around Jerusalem.

The team will also participate in a clinic held by Tamir Goodman, nicknamed "The Jewish Jordan," where Jewish and Palestinian kids will participate. In addition, Pearl has a lunch date with the coach of the Palestinian basketball team, something he says he hopes goes well.

“They say whatever you do, don’t talk religion and politics," Pearl said. "All I do is talk religion and politics.”

ESPN commentator Jay Bilas, who will travel and call the games along with Roxy Bernstein, echoes Pearl's statement of how much the trip will impact everyone.

The significance is beyond putting into words." Bilas said. "We are going to learn a lot on this trip. And learn about each other. This has the potential to be the most significant trip I've ever heard of."

Auburn begins the three-game trip against the Israel U-20 National Team on August 2nd. The game airs on the SEC Network at noon CT.