News from the 401: The wait is over, the Providence Pirates are ready to roll
131 days. That’s how long it has been since we stepped foot inside of the Johnston Rec. Center to highlight the inaugural Providence Pirates combine. The operation was small, but the excitement level was high, as local prospects auditioned for the squad. It wasn’t much, but it was the start of something special. Since then, the team has evolved under the leadership of Founder and CEO, Sercan Fenerci. They formed a fifteen-team roster, headlined by former URI Ram Will Leviton and Johnston standout Isaac Medeiros. Well-known New England coach, Mark Gaffney, joined the Pirates to lead the helm. He has over 20 years of basketball experience, including stints at Bridgewater State, UMass Dartmouth, and Xavier.
On the eve of their opening game against the NH Rockets this weekend, the public eye got their first glimpse of the Pirate ship. Director of Marketing, Vic Kash, greeted the media virtually, as the team repped their new pinstriped jerseys and finalized some gameplans for the upcoming matchup. Although you couldn't see it under his mask, his smile was beaming as media day was in full swing.
"It's an exciting time to be a Providence Pirates", Sercan proclaimed, as his dream now truly is a reality. "The team is doing a great job with practice and has adjusted well with the staff." General Manager, Paul Rogers, added: "It's been a whirlwind, but the team and operations have grown immensely".
Photo: @PiratesABA / (Left - Vic Kash, Right - Will Leviton)
Head Coach Mark Gaffney shared his excitement as well with this new opportunity. He is ready to take his slew of experience and form a new philosophy for the Pirates, focusing on formidable defense as well as all-around professionalism. Practices just began and the full roster is getting good reps and workouts. The team is on in the right direction for not only Saturday but for games to come. "Everyone on the team is ready to make an impact", Coach Gaffney stated, the talent is present.
Tyree Robinson received praise from his new coach, as he characterized him as an unbelievable athlete with DI experience. The 6-5 forward can flat-out shoot the ball, leading his YSU team with a .622 field-goal percentage, as well as crash the glass, grabbing 107 rebounds in 30 games. His standards are high for the team, as he envisions the Pirates to be able to compete at a high level.
Issac Medeiros gives the team size, but also has the ability to stretch the floor and has developed his shot. Medeiros has experience at high levels, most notably receiving a contract to play in Europe after ranking extremely well at a EuroBasketball combine. He'll be able to provide the Pirates with a high basketball IQ, court savviness, and production on both ends of the floor.
The floor general, Will Leviton, not only has the ideal skillsets and size to run the point, but he posses what every team needs leadership. Leviton is lively, motivational, and an all-around "glue guy". All eyes have been on Will, but he made it clear the team isn't called "Will Leviton and the Pirates" but rather "The Providence Pirates", and he is proud to rep his home state. Leviton, who is known for his time at Classical High School and URI walk-on, is ready to prove to people that he is a complete player and solid defender. He hopes he can lead by example and put in the work each and every day to help chase his dreams. As Coach Gaffney mentioned, Leviton is an energetic person, his spirits lift up the team and he even stated we may even see his notorious celebrations return, you know the ones that captivated the country during URI's 2017 tournament run?
The narrative still stands for the organization, the Pirates will be a team that is embedded within the Rhode Island and Massachusetts community, but also will be the catalyst for players to earn contracts and opportunities overseas. They plan to stay engaged with the community, hoping to participate in local endeavors to help worthy causes. "We all have had someone help us in our basketball careers, and now it's time to pay it forward," said GM Rogers. "The Pirates will be the bridge for our guys to get professional contracts, and we hope they can have long illustrious careers overseas and be able to do the same one day too".
The first action for the Pirates takes place this Saturday, as Providence heads to Manchester, New Hampshire to face off against the Rockets. You can watch the game live on the Pirates YouTube channel, as well as follow along on their social platforms, @piratesaba.