Steve Nash, the NBA's two-time defending MVP, began Thursday with a one-on-one soccer and basketball game with Francesco Totti, the star playmaker on Italy's winning World Cup squad.
"I didn't embarrass myself on the soccer field," Nash said. "And he did fine (at hoops)."
The rest of the Phoenix Suns toured ancient ruins in Rome.
"It's a little different than Memphis or Secaucus. They're pretty impressed," coach Mike D'Antoni said, alternating between English and fluent Italian when he spoke with local reporters.
The Suns' exhibition game on Friday against Virtus Lottomatica Roma certainly is different from a usual preseason game. The Suns are in Rome as part of the NBA Europe Live Tour, which features three other NBA teams playing on the continent. The Suns will play two more games in Cologne, Germany next week.
Well-known in Italy, D'Antoni coached Benetton Treviso to two Italian league titles and is still Olimpia Milano's all-time leading scorer.
He knows Roma is eager to play one of the NBA's top teams.
"Obviously, we want to win and play well," D'Antoni said. "I know they want to win. I'm sure they'll want to play out of their minds."
D'Antoni said he plans to start Nash and Raja Bell in the backcourt, with Boris Diaw, Shawn Marion and Kurt Thomas up front. Forward Amare Stoudemire, still recovering from knee surgery that kept him out of all but three games last season, sat out practice on Thursday with ice on both of his knees.
Roma, which is led by Serbia forward Dejan Bodiroga, is one of the favorites to win the Italian league, along with Bologna and Treviso. Roma opens its Italian league season Wednesday.
"Bodiroga for years has been the best European player," D'Antoni said. "He's definitely the best European player never to play in the NBA."
Over the course of a career in the Italian, Spanish and Greek leagues, Bodiroga has led his teams to three Euroleague titles and six domestic league championships.
"I had many chances in my career, but I preferred to make other choices and I'm content," said the 33-year-old.