PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER) – Mt. Blue alum Mike Soucie is coaching in the Portland for the Expo Christmas basketball tournament, which doesn’t sound unusual on the surface, except that he’s the coach of a Croatian high school team.
Soucie, who moved to the Balkan country back in 2001, is on a two-week basketball tour with his team throughout New England. Among the sightseeing will be attending NBA, Division I and III college basketball games, as well as playing against at least five Maine varsity teams. The purpose is one part cultural growth and another gauging themselves against their American counterparts.
“Most of my players are really interested to play college basketball. They’re interested to get a scholarship. I’m not sure if they’re good enough or what not, but really just trying to show them U.S. basketball, because it’s very, very different in Croatia and show them the system at all levels: We’ve seen NBA, we’ll see Division I, we’ll see Division III.”
The UMaine-Farmington grad’s wife, whom he met in college, is from Croatia.
His team, the Zagreb Mustangs, will play two games at the Expo tournament, including one against Portland, and against at least three more Maine High Schools: Edward Little, Mountain Valley, and Madison.