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Rome, Sept. 30

Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff  September 30, 2007 06:18 PM

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I typically need no more than six hours sleep at most. The way I look at it, I can sleep when I die and I feel like I’m missing out on something with my eyes are closed. But after becoming very fatigued from my flight from Boston through Frankfurt, Germany to Rome, I slept a lofty personal record 10 hours after going to bed about 1:30 in the morning Sunday. I was amazed when I saw what time it was once my eyes opened. I’m glad the Celtics’ first practice here was at 3 P.M. I can only imagine how tired the players must be. Celtics guard Ray Allen actually took a walk around Rome soon after the team arrived at their hotel Sunday.

I consider myself a basketball junkie. It’s not out of the ordinary for me to watch WNBA, Euroleague and NBADL games on television or even Pro-Am Games as I did often in Denver. I even have been to youth basketball games in Boston with the renowned Coach Willie Maye. So I thought it was very cool to go to the Palalottomatica in Rome to watch Italian League play between Lottomatica Rome play Cimberio Varese on Sunday. The Palalottomatica is where the Celtics will play their preseason opener Oct. 6 against Italy’s own Andrea Bargnani and the Raptors. There were huge inflatable jerseys, one that was Green and another that was a replica Raptors jersey in front and a replica Celtics jersey in back, promoting the game outside the arena.

Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge and basketball operations analyst Michael Zarren both attended the first half of the game. Ainge admitted being disappointed that ex-Celtics guard Allan Ray did not play as expected for Lottomatica. Apparently, the Italian League didn’t complete the needed paperwork for Ray to play, but he is expected to soon. Ray’s name also was on the Lottomatica’s roster.

Cimberio Varese’s roster includes ex-NBA player Julius Hodge. I covered the former Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year for The Denver Post when he was recently with the Nuggets. While I was sitting in the press area on the baseline, the charismatic Hodge actually pointed at me before shooting a free throw. I’m sure he was wondering what in the world was I doing there. Good luck Julius in your quest to get back to the NBA. The ex-North Carolina State star, who overcame being shot during a drive by shooting in Denver, is quietly working on a book about his life story and hopes to end it talking about his success in the NBA. Stay tuned.

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