CARACAS, Venezuela -- Former Northern Colorado men's basketball player Robert Palacios got his post-college career off to a championship start.
Palacios, who played for the Bears from 2007-09, got to experience a professional championship earlier this month as a reserve guard for the Cocodrilos de Cararacas (Caracas Crocodiles) of Venezuela's League of Professional Basketball.
The Crocodiles earned a 111-102 overtime victory on June 8 against the Marinos de AnzoÃ¡tegui (AnzoÃ¡tegui Marines) and stormed back from a 47-41 halftime deficit to earn a 4-2 series win and claim the fifth title in their franchise history.
Palacios, who came to America and Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa, five years ago after growing up in Venezula, played previuosly this fall for the Tiburones de Vargas (Vargas Sharks) in his home country's National Basketball League.
Palacios didn't make an appearance for the Crocodiles in the championship series, but his presence on the roster helped the franchise to a 41-9 overall record and its first LPB title since 2008.
Palacios was featured in a story in the Caracas newspaper El Universal in late February, and in that piece he was described as a high-energy player who almost immediately changed his team's momentum in just more than two minutes of action in a league game against the Marines.
"I just did what my coach instructed me: to defend and build the game," Palacios said then. "Everything went well, but I now have to keep working.
"Playing on the outside (in America) and having a university degree were my goals. Now that I have done those, I want to establish myself as a professional player and help my family."
That characterization and those quotes should come as no surprise to fans of Northern Colorado basketball.
Palacios was widely considered one of the best defenders in Northern Colorado history during his time in Greeley, and his off-the-court actions were equally lauded (2009 NCAA Final Four feature)
It's apparent the scenery has changed for Palacios, but his mission and his method haven't. He was a key cog in the development of Northern Colorado basketball, which just authored one of the finest seasons in its history, and he's quickly found success playing in front of his family and friends.
That's not a surprise either.