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Jelani Nix, right, of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing has his shot blocked by Shun Haskins of Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler during Saturday’s championship game in the Marine Corps Far East Regional Basketball Tournament at Camp Kinser, Okinawa. Nix had 21 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and three blocked shots as Wing won its third straight title by beating Base 90-72.

Jelani Nix, right, of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing has his shot blocked by Shun Haskins of Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler during Saturday’s championship game in the Marine Corps Far East Regional Basketball Tournament at Camp Kinser, Okinawa. Nix had 21 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and three blocked shots as Wing won its third straight title by beating Base 90-72. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP KINSER, Okinawa — All-Armed Forces veterans Billy Shanks and Jelani Nix keep piling up individual awards. Their 1st Marine Aircraft Wing team continues winning Far East Regional Tournament gold medals.

Shanks scored 35 points, including six three-point goals, and Nix had 21 points and 22 rebounds as Wing won its third consecutive Far East Regional basketball title with a 90-72 victory over Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler 90-72 on Saturday.

"It feels good, especially playing with Nix," Shanks, a two-time All-Armed Forces guard, said. He and Nix were teammates when Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point won two straight East Coast Regional titles.

On Saturday, Nix and Shanks shared tournament MVP honors. Nix, a nine-time All-Marine and four-time All-Armed Forces forward, was selected again to attend the All-Marine tryout camp starting April 19 at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

"He’s like a big brother to me," Shanks said of Nix. "I look up to him. He’s my mentor. When I play with him, I play 10 times better."

Nix, who also had seven assists, five steals and three blocked shots, said the only statistic that matters to him is the "W."

"Just trying to win. That’s the ultimate goal, to do whatever it takes to help the team win," Nix said. "That’s the ultimate stat. All those [individual] numbers mean nothing if you don’t win the game."

Shanks scored eight points as Wing burst out to a 13-2 lead. But Base, riding Shun Haskins’ 17 points, including 7-for-7 at the foul line, kept it tight the rest of the half.

James Meak gave Base its last lead at 36-34 on a shot from the right side with 2:45 left in the half. Nix’s baseline shot 25 seconds later sparked a nine-point run that put Wing back in the lead.

Johnny Jamerson’s layup with 11:35 left gave Wing its biggest lead at 68-48 before Base stormed back, cutting it to 69-64 on Sam Harris’ fast-break layup with 6:09 left.

That was as close as Base got, as Shanks hit two late threes. Nix’s steal and dunk with two minutes left put the exclamation point on the victory. Haskins led Base with 23 points.

"We expected Nix to do that, but we didn’t expect Shanks to score 35," Base coach Kevin Cochran said, calling Shanks a "momentum killer."

"Every time we had the momentum, they gave the ball to Shanks and he killed it. He was the difference."

Also going to All-Marine camp are Base’s Jeffrey Wilson; Jeremy Houston of 3rd Marine Division/III Marine Expeditionary Force; Tommy Bryan of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni; and Antonius Brackett, Aswan McCall, Terrence Terrell and Miguel Bridges of 3rd Marine Logistics Group.

The tryout camp is slated for April 19-May 9, with the All-Armed Forces Tournament May 10-18 at Naval Support Activity Mid-South, Millington, Tenn.

The All-Armed Forces team will then defend its International Military Sports Council (CISM) title June 3-16 at Klaipeda, Lithuania. Team USA won the CISM title for the first time in 10 years last April at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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