Nineteen teams representing military bases throughout the Pacific will converge on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, this weekend for the 2005 March Madness Open Basketball Tournament.

The 11th such tournament in 14 years for open, base- and post-level traveling teams coincides with Monday’s grand opening of the $17 million Coral Reef Fitness and Sports Complex.

“We’re hoping this will be the best March Madness ever,” said Gerrard Barnes, Andersen’s fitness center manager who’s hosted the tournament since its 1992 inception. It was canceled three times because of weather or military commitments.

Barnes feels the field, including post teams from Kunsan Air Base and Camp Humphreys in Korea, Camp Fuji and Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan and Okinawa’s Spotlight and Heat open teams will make for a “very competitive” tournament.

Local military and civilian teams from Guam, long dominated by host Andersen’s squads, “are stronger than what they’ve been in the past; they challenge us big-time” these days, Barnes said.

Fourteen men’s and five women’s teams will battle for bragging rights in the combined round-robin/double-elimination event that will also serve as a warmup and proving ground for players vying for berths on their respective service teams in the All-Armed Forces championships in July.

They’ll play on the end-to-end courts at the new Coral Reef center, designed for both college and professional ball; the men’s double-elimination playoffs will be governed by NBA rules.

Barnes calls the new facility, the second on a Pacific Air Forces base which he helped design, “a six-star facility.” Besides the end-to-end courts, the fitness center features hundreds of thousands of dollars of aerobic and weight-training equipment.

“It’s a new facility that will blow everybody’s socks off,” said Barnes, who also designed a $10.5 million facility at Osan Air Base, South Korea, that opened in 2001.

“The customers, ballplayers and community of Andersen will be happy with what Uncle Sam has given them: a first-class state-of-the-art fitness center which is now the largest in the command, as well as a tournament that befits such a grand opening and such a facility,” Barnes said.

11th March Madness Open Basketball Tournament

Host: 36th Services, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Dates: March 14-19, 2005.

Site: New Coral Reef Fitness and Sports Complex, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Format: Combined round-robin/double-elimination. Fourteen men's teams, two pools of seven teams each, top nine records qualify for double-elimination playoffs; five women's teams in one pool, top three qualify for double-elimination playoffs.

Schedule of events: Opening ceremony 2:30 p.m. Monday. First round-robin games 3:30 p.m. Monday. Last round-robin games 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. Skills competition 11 a.m. Thursday, men's slam-dunk and three-point, women's three-point and foul-shooting. Playoffs begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Championship games at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Who's coming: Men, Kunsan Air Base and Camp Humphreys, South Korea; Spotlight and Heat, Okinawa; Camp Fuji and Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan; Andersen A, Andersen B, USS Frank Cable, Naval Station "Big Navy," Guam National Team, Ace Hardware, Budweiser, GameStoppers and Island Dragons, Guam. Women, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea; Andersen, USS Frank Cable, Guam National Team, Bud Light, Guam.

Awards: Team trophies to top four men's and top three women's teams. Individual awards to players on champion and runner-up teams. MVPs. All-tournament teams, 20 men's selections, 10 women's selections. All-tournament coaches. Best defensive five, best offensive five. Men's slam-dunk and three-point champions, women's three-point and foul-shooting champions.

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