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There was another odd man out as several players from the Harlem Ambassadors professional exhibition basketball team lined up some chairs, pulled some youngsters from the bleachers, and played their own version of musical chairs during a game break at midcourt on Thursday night at the Fleet Gymnasium.

There was another odd man out as several players from the Harlem Ambassadors professional exhibition basketball team lined up some chairs, pulled some youngsters from the bleachers, and played their own version of musical chairs during a game break at midcourt on Thursday night at the Fleet Gymnasium. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

There was another odd man out as several players from the Harlem Ambassadors professional exhibition basketball team lined up some chairs, pulled some youngsters from the bleachers, and played their own version of musical chairs during a game break at midcourt on Thursday night at the Fleet Gymnasium.

There was another odd man out as several players from the Harlem Ambassadors professional exhibition basketball team lined up some chairs, pulled some youngsters from the bleachers, and played their own version of musical chairs during a game break at midcourt on Thursday night at the Fleet Gymnasium. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

Nina Toomer, left, her daughter Amanda, and Lade Majic, manager and coach of the Harlem Ambassadors dance off the court just before the second half of Thursday's game at Sasebo.

Nina Toomer, left, her daughter Amanda, and Lade Majic, manager and coach of the Harlem Ambassadors dance off the court just before the second half of Thursday's game at Sasebo. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

Lade Majic, center, surrounded by the other members of the Harlem Ambassadors professional exhibition team, whips a basketball around in all directions during a showy passing and ball-handling drill.

Lade Majic, center, surrounded by the other members of the Harlem Ambassadors professional exhibition team, whips a basketball around in all directions during a showy passing and ball-handling drill. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — If the Harlem Ambassadors are seriously interested in making a good impression, then they performed admirably Thursday night at the Fleet Gymnasium here.

If quality basketball was their objective, they must feel jubilant.

“Don’t even say it. Don’t mention it. I don’t want to hear it at all,” said Ambassadors coach, manager and star point guard Lade Majic, referring to that “other” Harlem team. “We are more youthful, up-to-date and more fun to watch. Some people say we’re better, and I just can’t argue with that.”

With a standing-room only crowd filling the gym, the Ambassadors cruised past the Sasebo Naval Base VIP/All-Stars, 74-53.

But the score could have been much worse. The clown-like Ambassadors spent most of the game playing around, dancing, playing musical chairs and simple “keep away.”

So you’d have to say those Ambassadors are quite the diplomatic types.

Before the game, Majic casually said, “Of course, we’re going to win. You know that, right? Last year, our record was 150 wins and no losses, and we’re trying to improve on that,” she added with a wink, cocked hip and plenty of sassiness.

Airman Larry Brown of the USS Essex crew sat back and roared with laughter more than a few times.

“I just think it’s great that they’d bring a group like this here because it gives you a couple of hours to just sit back and enjoy, and not think about work or anything else much,” he said.

“I really like the positive nature of their show because the kids love it, and the way they talk about the dangers of drugs and the importance of education make them excellent role models for the kids, too.”

“We come here and enjoy playing for the military crowds. That is the main benefit for us,” said Reggie Robinson, a shooting guard for the Ambassadors. “And when we aren’t touring and playing, I’m in school. I have just one year to go and I’ll have my degree.”

“That’s right,” chimed Majic. “When we’re not playing, they have to be finishing their college classes. It’s the most important thing they could be doing for themselves.

“If they stay out of college longer than one full year, I kick ’em off. Yes I do. Just ask some of the players. They must be working toward finishing their education.”

Before playing in Sasebo, the Ambassadors appeared at Camp Zama, Yokosuka Naval Base and Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station. They were scheduled to play at Chinhae, South Korea, on Friday night.

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