Pedigreed teams ready for test in Pacificwide Open hoop tourney
Fresh off a 20-0 record and the championship of Okinawa’s inaugural Joint Military Athletic Conference basketball season, coach Gerrard Barnes and the Kadena Falcons take the next step Saturday in their quest to extend their domination throughout the Pacific.
That’s when the Falcons, with nine other men’s teams and five women’s squads, begin play in the 20th anniversary Pacificwide Open Holiday Basketball Tournament, a five-day event featuring post- and base-level squads from throughout the Far East.
“We have a lot left to prove,” Barnes said. “Not only do we want to prove we’re the champions of Okinawa, we want to prove we’re the champions of the Pacific community.”
Kadena boasts experience and depth, including former All-Air Force forward Wayne Mobley and a strong cadre of guards including Jarrod Butler, David Proctor and Markel Felder.
Three of its marquee names, All-Armed Forces vets Kendric Green and Carl Little and 1996 Air Force Academy graduate Reggie Minton, won’t be at Osan due to duty and other commitments.
Barnes, in his 32nd year of playing and coaching in the Pacific, has won this tournament four times with three different bases, to go with three titles each in the Guam March Madness Invitational and the old Pacific Air Forces tournaments.
“He’s got everything,” said coach Tony Jones of the host Osan Defenders.
“That roster is something else. Reminds me of some of the rosters I used to have. They bring what they’ve got and they do it right, they’re the team to beat.”
Osan brings a 14-0 mark into the tournament, despite a young roster centered around veteran William Dix, 6-foot-9 center Gary Davis and a guard tandem of Kenyatta Prince, Lorenzo McKinley and James Williams.
Jones’ credentials are equal to Barnes’: 10 Koreawide post-level championships, six Osan titles, three March Madness titles and five Taegu holiday tournament crowns.
Having coached the Defenders before, Barnes knows that Osan is “probably one of the hardest teams to beat on their home court. The pressure of the fans and hoopla surrounding that tournament is tremendous. A lot of players can’t handle that.”
That’s not to say just Osan and Kadena can be the only ones with a shot at hoisting the championship trophy on the victory stand on Wednesday.
“There are probably three or four really solid teams that have an equal opportunity to do well in terms of winning,” Barnes said.
“We’re not taking anybody lightly. The reality starts on the 16th.”
20th Anniversary Pacificwide Open Holiday Basketball TournamentProponent: 51st Services, Osan Air Base, South Korea.
Dates: 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 five 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 2 p.m. Wednesday for women, 4 p.m. Wednesday for men, second games at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. if necessary. Awards ceremony after conclusion of championship games.
Participating teams: Men’s Pool 1, Osan Air Base, Yongsan Garrison, Suwon Air Base, Seoul American High School, South Korea; Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Men’s Pool 2, Camp Humphreys, Wonju/Camp Long, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea; Kadena Air Base, Okinawa; Misawa Air Base, Japan. Women’s pool, Osan Air Base, Camp Humphreys, Yongsan Garrison, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea; Misawa Air Base, Japan; Mystics, Okinawa.