Kubasaki will host a lot of basketball this weekend
Stars and Stripes December 7, 2023
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – Antiwon Tucker hopes his Kadena boys team is taking a belly full of motivation into this weekend’s 17th Okinawa-American friendship basketball tournament at nearby Camp Foster.
It’s a new-look tournament that for the first time will feature two teams from outside of Okinawa – Taipei American’s and American School In Japan’s boys and girls teams.
Tucker and his boys hold long memories of their last meeting with the Tigers, who beat Kadena on a buzzer beater 55-53 last Dec. 10; the Panthers led Taipei 42-34 entering the final period.
Eight days later, Kadena lost 76-63 in the friendship tournament to Maehara, a Japanese team, which will also play in this weekend’s tournament. The Panthers lost to Kubasaki in the third-place game.
“We get the best of all worlds,” Tucker said of the chance to play both Japanese and international-school teams in the tournament – and a chance to avenge last season’s losses.
“We want to get them all back, and we think we have the team to do it with,” Tucker said.
In years past, Kubasaki and Kadena would play the Okinawa-American tournament and games against Taipei American during separate weekends.
But according to tournament director and Kubasaki boys coach Jon Fick, circumstances allowed for both the friendship tournament and the games against Taipei and ASIJ to be played the same weekend.
“It just worked out that way,” Fick said.
The tournament features 24 games to be played over two days at the Foster Field House, which has three end-to-end courts, two of which will be used for games and the third for warmups.
The 12 teams entered will be broken into four pools, playing two games each in Saturday’s pool play, followed by a single-elimination tournament on Sunday.
The best part for the DODEA-Okinawa entries, Tucker said, is that they each get as many as five games over two days.
“We need the competition” to prepare for tournaments such as the ASIJ Kanto Classic in mid-January followed by the Far East Division I tournament in late January at Kadena. “It will be a very interesting weekend for us.”
Most schools throughout the region are playing their final competitions before the Christmas holiday break begins next Friday.
On the mats, Guam High engages in its second competition of the season on Saturday, while in Korea, Daegu hosts a four-way meet Saturday at Camp Walker.
E.J. King hosts Robert D. Edgren and Matthew C. Perry while Zama hosts Yokota and Nile C. Kinnick in DODEA-Japan three-way meets on Saturday. On the courts, Yokota hosts Perry and Edgren entertains Zama on Friday and Saturday.