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With fair winds and following seas, the Providence Pirates officially set sail.

Photo: Will Tondo Photography

"You won't be making millions of dollars with the Pirates, but this team will hopefully be your bridge to professional basketball. My job is to get you to the next step." These words of encouragement came from the President and Founder of The Providence Pirates, Sercan Fenerci, at the end of a successful combine.

The native of Turkey has basketball in his blood. Sercan Fenerci is a former college baller turned longtime high school and college basketball coach, which transformed him into the AD of Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. His love for the game and high basketball and business IQ guided Sercan to his dreams of owning his own team. Thus, the Providence Pirates were born. The Pirates will be members of the ABA (American Basketball Association. This league is known to be the home of Will Ferrell's Flint Tropics, but more seriously known for the starting points of the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers. The league restarted in 2000, and the Pirates are looking to build their team to compete. On Episode 21 of "Beers, Business, and Balls", Sercan told us that the plan for this team was to "keep it local". His goal was to look for players from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut and make it a local product. People overlook New England, but the combine showed that there was plenty of talent present.

The gym was filled with around 20 local ballers, who were ready to prove their worth. It began with an opening shoot around, stretches, and measurements followed by words from the staff. Then came the fun stuff, including layup lines, long jumps, dribbling drills, and three-point shootouts. The most anticipated event to watch the talent present was the 5-on-5 scrimmages.

A standout on the floor this afternoon was Juan Espinal of Bristol Community College. Rocking the throwback Orlando Magic shorts, Espinal was a poetic combination of size and speed. He had great ball control and a consistent shot around the entire court. It seemed like his shot never missed and he passed the ball a decent amount as well.

Photo: Will Tondo Photography

Standing at 6-6, Isaac Medeiros' presence and poise propelled him to the top of the list today. For a big man, he had great ball control and was one of the top performers of the day. The 27-year-old Johnston native has an impressive resume. An all-state player in high school, Medeiros went to CCRI followed by a DII college called Roberts Wesleyan College. His dream was to play overseas, but unfortunately, his father fell ill, and Medeiros elected to stay at home to help. He wanted to still follow his dreams, so in 2019 he got back in shape and went to Las Vegas for the EuroBasketball combine. He performed very well, which led to him being ranked 17th out of 108 players present.

Photo: Will Tondo Photography

Another impressive player on Saturday, was Providence native, Will Leviton. He was a member and a role player on a star-studded high school team at Classical. Leviton then enrolled at URI, where he was a team manager with the Rams in his freshman year before joining the roster as a sophomore walk-on. In 2018, he became a scholarship player. He is a vocal leader that boosts the morale and play of the components around him. This was present this weekend, where Leviton was a very functional floor general during the scrimmages. He was running on offense with players he has never played with, and his leadership and basketball IQ shined during the practice.

Photo: Will Tondo Photography

The combine was hosted at the Johnston Indoor Recreational Center. It had a pickup highschool ball vibe, but the energy and excitement were through the roof. "Be very aggressive, and out your best effort forward" said combine coach and Bunker Hill Community College Coach, Nkrumah Jones. That is what was present on the combine for sure. The talent and athleticism present from the players in the gym were exciting to watch. The Pirates staff put in a tremendous effort to ensure a wonderful event, and the combine was executed greatly. With all of the COVID-19 restrictions, the event was run safely and smoothly.

Huge shoutout to Sercan for providing us the opportunity to cover the combine in full. For a full recap of the combine, plus interviews with Sercan, Vic Kash (Director of Marketing / Front Office), and Shaun Lavoie (Marketing/Broadcast Intern), be sure to listen to Episode 27 of "Beers, Business, and Balls", which drops tomorrow!


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