AOSR has a Reale chance to return to D2 hoops glory
By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 15, 2019
American Overseas School of Rome has been largely quiet since winning the 2015 DODEA-Europe Division II boys basketball title. But the Falcons are making a lot of noise again this winter.
AOSR recorded two double-digit wins over tough Division I squad Naples last weekend, improving its overall record to 4-0. The 64-54 and 83-64 wins showcased all of the Falcons’ considerable talents, and proved that they’ll be a major player in the fast-approaching European tournament.
“Both teams went all out against each other,” AOSR head coach Phil Davis said. ‘Battling each possession on both days.”
That competitive streak is just one of AOSR’s strengths as a team.
The Falcons have a solid defense, deploying an unconventional box-and-one formation that slowed the high-scoring Wildcats and should find even greater success against Division II competition. Offensively, AOSR flashed an ability to rack up points quickly, scoring 25 points or more in three of the weekend’s eight quarters.
Leading those efforts is a breakout star with a name that will ring very familiar to Division II foes. Thomas Reale, the younger brother of former AOSR phenom Otis Reale, is a sophomore sporting “a penchant for scoring and playing aggressive defense.” The elder Reale, now a rotation player at NCAA Division III Illinois Tech, headlined AOSR’s 2015 championship squad.
Now Thomas has a similar opportunity, and appears ready to seize it; he scored 31 and 38 points, respectively, in the two wins over Naples. And he’s got capable support in the form of junior captain Niv Eshel, sophomores Ahmed Assad and Cyrus Watkins and a deep bench that Davis calls the team’s “primary strength.”
All the pieces are in place for AOSR to return to the Division II championship scene, which has been dominated in recent years by Rota and Black Forest Academy.
“In Germany we expect to find experienced and expert squads,” Davis said, referring to the tournament’s location in Wiesbaden. “We know that to be successful in Germany, we must first be successful in Italy.”
After two signature wins over Naples last weekend, the first phase of AOSR’s takeover is well underway.