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Basketball Is Alive and Well in Colombia

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I have just returned from my 5th trip to Colombia in the last 4 years. This trip was to Manizales, where along with former National Team Coach, Guillermo Moreno, we conducted a 3 day clinic for 25 players and over 40 coaches.

I always enjoy my trips to Colombia and the trip to Manizales was no different. It is a large city, nestled in the mountains, about a 30-minute flight northwest of Bogota. It is in the heart of coffee country and is the legendary home of coffee producer, Juan Valdez.

Colombia has a small but very passionate basketball culture. Feeling they are always fighting against the soccer (football) culture, they are willing to buck the tide a gooble up all the basketball they are able to.

The clinic schedule was an intense one, running from 8 am to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday and thru to 1 pm on Monday. I worked with offensive fundamentals while Guillermo handled the defensive side.

The players were very eager and worked very hard for the weekend. I speak very little Spanish and the Spanish that I do speak is spoken badly and I am sure some things come out that are inappropriate, but once again, basketball proved to be a universal language. On the court, we had no trouble communicating. I am quite sure that was not the case once we left the court.

I am especially impressed by the stamina of the players. I travel quite a bit and I encounter all types of facilities. Usually I am happy when the gym has a roof. If it has walls, that is a plus. In Manizales, we had a very nice facility but, as standard, the floor was concrete. Regardless of what you are used to, 10 hours of running up and down a cement floor has to take its toll on the legs. The players did not let that get in the way. They worked hard, worked well and I think we all thoroughly enjoyed the weekend.

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Don Kelbick

Coach Don Kelbick has had 27 years of coaching experience, 25 at the college level including 14 years as a head coach and 10 years as a Division I assistant including stops at Hofstra University, Marist College, Keene State College, and Florida International University. In 2 years as a high school coach, his teams produced 6 Division I players and was ranked #1 in Florida 28 out of a possible 34 weeks. In addition to coaching he has scouted for NBA teams, including the Knicks and the Hawks, and served as a general manager in the USBL.