It’s back next weekend, with double the prize money and a national stage on ESPN. “The Basketball Tournament” presented by Jack Links makes its return to Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym for the semi-finals on Saturday night, with not just $1, but $2 million on the line for the winner.
This year’s 64 team field again produced some great household names: Cuttino Mobley, Jason Williams, Mike Bibby—but all fell by the wayside as better teams, and maybe more focused athletes, again found ways to play through. Alumni teams from Syracuse and Kansas State, Michigan State and even Gonzaga, all went down during the regionals, which concluded on Saturday night at Philadelphia University.
What’s left may not be the boldest of names, but us probably the best basketball.
Leading the way is the defending champions, Overseas Elite, led by two former St. John’s stars, DJ Kennedy and Parris Horne. Kennedy narrowly missed out on a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds while Errick McCollum II chipped in with 14 points in a 74-66 win over Trained To Go Saturday, while former Knick Dermarr Johnson was one of five players scored in double figures for City of Gods, an NBA-laden team and the lone number one seed remaining. The Baltimore based team, with Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Xavier Silas and former Knick lottery pick Michael Sweetney on board, rallied from a 13 point halftime deficit on Saturday night to defeat The Untouchables, a team of former Pitt Panther alums that included Xaverian’s Lavance Fields, 83-79.
The other side of the bracket has teams that have literally come the farthest and raised the most eyebrows as they played through the bracket. Always a Brave, a squad of Bradley University alums, smoked Pedro’s Posse, an NBA laden team led by Bibby and Williams, on Friday, and then took out a Marquette alumni team 89-81 on Saturday to make it to Rose Hill Gym. Always A Brave was led by Marcellus Sommerville, who scored a game-high 25 points and was one of four Always A Brave starters to score in double figures. Daniel Ruffin led the offense, dishing out seven assists on the night.
Team Colorado, alumni from CU, advanced with an 83-78 win over Team Utah with Marcus Hall leading the team with 22 points while playing all 36 minutes. Colorado does have a bit of a tie to Fordham, as their current associate head coach Jean Prioleau was a Rams star in the 1990’s.
The games will be at Fordham Saturday night at five and seven, with the final on Tuesday August 2 at 7, all live on ESPN. All the details can be found here.