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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Referees will take to the court, but the score won’t matter when the Harlem Ambassadors face off against military all-stars.

Dubbed a younger, hipper version of the Harlem Globetrotters, the Ambassadors are bringing their wacky, albeit skillful, hoops tricks to several Japan military bases this week, where they’re to play against military basketball teams.

The appearance is part of the Harlem Ambassadors’ “Around the World Tour,” which has carried the team to 39 states and 19 foreign countries.

While in Japan, they’re to perform at Misawa Air Base on Wednesday, Sasebo Naval Base on Saturday and Kadena Air Base on Sunday. The squad also was to visit Yokosuka Naval Base on Tuesday.

The Japan shows are free to all military ID cardholders.

At Misawa, the Ambassadors take on Misawa’s varsity basketball team at 6 p.m. in the Potter Fitness Center’s main gymnasium, marking the second year in a row for the show.

“It’s something different every year,” said Tech. Sgt. Jerry Castaldo, the fitness center’s special events director. “It’s not even really a game against our varsity team because the rules kind of go out the window. They can pretty much do anything with the basketball: spin it on their fingers for forever and a life, and they’re phenomenal with dribbling. It’s really a great family show.”

The Ambassadors do not present a choreographed show, according to a Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation news release, as the team likes to face opponents who do not know what to expect. The audience can expect to see high-flying slam dunks, dazzling ball handling and comedy routines led by “Ladé Majic,” the only woman coach/player of a men’s professional basketball team, according to a team news release.

Because a large crowd is expected at Misawa, Castaldo said, arriving early is advised; the gym’s doors will open at 5 p.m. The Ambassadors usually sign autographs after the show, he said.

At Sasebo, the Ambassadors are to play the Sasebo Eagles, a squad of Fleet Activities Sasebo’s finest players, at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Main Base Fleet Fitness Center.

Seating will be first-come, first-served with doors opening at 5 p.m. The Ambassadors also plan a youth clinic for 5- to 18-year-olds in the Hario Village Fitness Center from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Ambassadors are to play at 6 p.m. Sunday at Kadena’s Falcon Fitness Center against an all-star Kadena team.

For more information about the Ambassadors, visit the team’s Web site at www.harlemambassadors.com.

Greg Tyler and David Allen contributed to this report.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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