Nine men’s and seven women’s teams from around the Pacific are to converge on Osan Air Base, South Korea, in the coming days for the 14th Osan Pacificwide Open Holiday Basketball Tournament.
The diverse field features three out-of-country teams, including defending women’s champion Queens of Okinawa and three high school teams: Seoul American’s girls and boys and Osan American’s boys — the most prep teams ever in the tournament.
“It’s going to be good,” tournament director and Osan sports and fitness director Tony Mason said. “We have some competitive teams participating. We’re excited, just happy to have it back at Osan.”
The tournament was held annually from its 1987 inception through 1998 but in the past six years has been held just twice. It went by the boards from 1999 through 2001 because Osan’s new fitness and sports center was being built; it was called off last year because of budget cuts.
While fitness and intramural sports are considered Air Force “core” programs, “varsity is one of those programs predicated on available funding,” said Mason, adding that the money simply wasn’t there last year.
New leadership within Osan’s 51st Services and newfound funding helped make the tournament possible this year, Mason said.
“The selling point is, it provides entertainment and gives a taste of home, with these high-caliber players participating,” he said.
Some will play in just part of the tournament. Osan’s boys and Seoul’s girls asked to play in only the round-robin portion. Still, that gives Osan’s boys four games and Seoul’s girls six, which, Mason said, will help elevate their game.
Players on base teams “can provide a mentoring for the high school players, talk to them about how to improve and develop their game, and someday they can play at the elite level,” Mason said.
Tournament play begins at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and runs through Thursday’s championship games, at 5:30 p.m. for women and 7:30 p.m. for men.
14th Osan Pacificwide Open Holiday Basketball Tournament
Proponent: 51st Services Squadron, Osan Air Base, South Korea.
Dates: Dec. 18-23
Site: Main fitness and sports center, Osan Air Base, South Korea.
Format: Combined round-robin/double-elimination tournament. Nine men’s teams divided into two pools, one of four teams, the other of five. Seven women’s teams in one pool. Eight of nine men’s teams and six of seven women’s teams qualify for playoffs; Seoul American girls and Osan American boys will only play the round-robin phase.
Schedule of events: All events at Osan fitness and sports center. Coaches’ meeting 8 a.m. Saturday. Opening ceremony 11 a.m. Saturday. First games 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Round-robin games last through 9:30 p.m. Monday. Playoffs begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Championship games Thursday, at 5:30 p.m. for women with “if-necessary” game to follow at 7:30 p.m, and 7:30 p.m. for men with “if-necessary” game at 9:30 p.m. Closing ceremony to follow last game.
Participating teams: Men, Osan Defenders, Kunsan Wolf Pack, Yongsan Runnin’ Rebels, Camp Humphreys Bulldogs, Suwon Trail Blazers, Seoul American High School Falcons, Osan American High School Cougars, South Korea; Andersen Bombers, Guam; Spotlight, Okinawa. Women, Queens, Okinawa; Osan Defenders, Kunsan Wolf Pack, Camp Humphreys Bulldogs, Yongsan Runnin’ Rebels, Suwon Panthers, Seoul American High School Falcons, South Korea.