When the godfather of Russian basketball, Shabtai von Kalmanovic, contacted Apache Paschall through an intermediary four months back, he had an offer the New York-based coach could not refuse. It was so compelling, it had Paschall, 12 players, two other coaches and three parents scrambling for passports. Their carrot was an all-expenses-paid trip to Russia, to play basketball.
They left Thursday night for Moscow where will play their first game on Friday in the first Spartak Cup for girls' basketball. Exodus, which Paschall coaches, is the U.S. entry in the international competition. The group returns May 5.
"A lot of these kids never leave the projects in Brooklyn," said Paschall, who also coaches at St. Michael Academy, which was ranked No. 5 in the ESPN RISE Fab 50. "Now we're talking about going to Moscow? It was a no-brainer."