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In his two years as the coach of Okinawa’s Kadena Falcons interservice basketball team, Gerrard Barnes has done it all … except win an off-island tournament.

The longtime icon of Pacific Air Forces hoops hopes to change that starting Saturday when his Falcons begin play in the 21st Pacificwide Open Holiday Basketball Tournament, hosted by South Korea’s Osan Air Base.

“We plan to prove it off-island,” said Barnes, 59, a retired Air Force senior master sergeant who’s won the Osan tournament four times with three teams.

That goes with his titles in the Kadena Classic the past two years, along with three titles in the March Madness tournament on Guam and three PACAF championships he won in the 1980s.

He took the job two years ago as the 18th Services fitness and sports director, and also became the Falcons’ head coach. Since then, his team has gone 71-4. Two of the losses came in October in the Warrior Classic at Yokota Air Base, the other two in the 2006 Osan tournament.

“We could have won it last year” had the Falcons fielded a full team, Barnes said, instead of bringing only seven players due to duty commitments.

That’s not to say his Falcons plan to walk into Osan and annihilate the field, Barnes said. The 10 men’s and six women’s teams each have talents on the same level as Falcons guards Jarrod Butler, Romaine Hunter and Markel Felder, among others.

Standing in the way will be Korea’s Yongsan Runnin’ Rebels, 16-0 thus far this season with All-Armed Forces guard Marcus Polarchy in tow. Tournament host Osan under coach Tony Jones has won the event six times since he took the team in 1993.

“It’s hard to win in Korea,” Barnes said. “We’re looking to be severely challenged. It’s a dogfight from the opening tipoff. Nothing ever comes easy over there. But we plan to play like we’re the best.”

There’s a sense of urgency on Barnes’ part to win this event, since he’ll be taking a new job at Andersen Air Force Base next month.

“I want to go out a winner,” he said.

Pacificwide Open Holiday Basketball TournamentDates: Dec. 16-20.

Site: Osan Fitness & Sports Complex, Osan Air Base, South Korea.

Format: Single round-robin, 16-minute halves, 10 men’s teams divided into two pools of five teams each, one women’s pool of six teams, first two days. Double-elimination playoffs, regulation 20-minute halves, top four men’s teams in each pool and all five women’s teams qualify, last four days.

Schedule: Opening ceremony 10 a.m. Saturday. First round-robin games 10:30 a.m. Saturday; last round-robin games, 9 p.m. Sunday for men, 9 a.m. Monday for women. First double-elimination games 11 a.m. Monday for men, 3 p.m. Monday for women. Championship games noon. Wednesday for women, 2 p.m. Wednesday for men, second games at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. if necessary.

Participating teams: Men’s Pool 1, Osan Air Base, Yongsan Garrison, Suwon Air Base, Wonju/Camp Long, Camp Humphreys, S. Korea. Men’s Pool 2, Daegu, Camp Red Cloud, Kunsan Air Base, S. Korea; Kadena Air Base, Okinawa; aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, Japan. Women’s pool, Osan Air Base, Camp Humphreys, Yongsan Garrison, Kunsan Air Base, Daegu and Suwon Air Base, S. Korea.


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