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Ware, GSU hoops headed to Costa Rica

Kevin Ware and his new teammates at Georgia State are headed to Central America not only for a good cause, but to play some basketball as well.

Georgia State will begin an eight-day international tour Thursday that will include four games and several shoe distributions for Samaritan’s Feet. It is the second time in the last two summers that members of the Panthers’ basketball team will be participating in Samaritan’s Feet and the eighth time since 2008 head coach Ron Hunter has participated. After not getting any on-court action when they visited South Africa in 2012, Georgia State will get to play against club teams this time around.

Ware, a Rockdale High School graduate who transferred from Louisville, will get his first game action with Georgia State when the Atlanta school plays one game each day from Friday-through-Monday against Cartago, Puntarenas, Juegos Nacionales and San Ramon.

“This is going to be a great trip for our program in so many different ways,” said Hunter. “First off, we will do some great work with Samaritan’s Feet. It is always a learning experience for our student-athletes, especially those doing it for the first time. The fact that we will be able to bring hope and shoes to so many children is a great thing. After two great months of practice, we are also looking forward to the opportunity to play four games. I think our guys are ready to face someone other than themselves.”

Besides the game action, the Panthers will help distribute footwear through Shoes of Hope. The program, founded by Manny and Tracie Ohonme in 2003, has distributed millions of pairs of shoes in more than 50 nations.

Hunter, in his fourth season as Georgia State’s head coach and who led the team to a Sun Belt Conference regular season championship last year, has coached one game each year barefoot to help raise awareness of Samaritan’s Feet. Georgia State has won all three games.

Per NCAA rules, programs are permitted to take one of these international tour trips every four years where they are able to play against international competition. Georgia State last made an international trip that involved game action in 2010 when they played three times in the Bahamas.