When people ask who was the best player ever to participate in the Tucson Basketball League, I have an easy answer. Sean Elliott, two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year, NBA champion, two-time NBA All-Star, and winner of the John R. Wooden Award as the top player in college basketball in 1989, actually played a few games in the earliest days of the league. So that's an easy one. We've actually probably had a dozen or so University of Arizona players in the league at one time or another. We've also had lots and lots of guys who have played at other colleges and professionally overseas.
We've had some great ones in the league and it's great to see one of them returning after a too-long absence. Roland Ramon, a hoop legend out on the Tohono O'Odham Reservation, is back with his new team, the Skyhawks. Roland used to absolutely light it up in the TBL in the early part of this century. Then he became one of those adult things, with a job and responsibilities. Around 2010, his basketball fortunes took an interesting turn. Tohono O'Odham Community College opened up and started a basketball program. The coach, Matthew Vargas, asked Roland to come out of "retirement" and play for the JUCO team. Roland started running and lifting and got back in shape. He ended starting for a very-good TOCC team when he was on the dark side of 30.
His Skyhawks team opened up against a tough Second Winded team and dropped a 92-72 verdict. But Roland was his old self, pouring in 41 points on nine three-pointers. He also grabbed nine rebounds. They will face the Red Santas on Sunday at 5:00 on Court 1.
In Sunday's action:
--Hickory 56, Mansfield Ballers 37 - Last week when I stopped in at the venue, I saw Derek Ogden of Hickory shooting around on one of the courts. Apparently, it paid off as he poured in 27 points in Hickory's win. And he added 13 rebounds to record a double-double.
--Hawgs 75, Team UGLY 73 - This was a game with playoff intensity between the defending top-league champion Hawgs and the newcomers from UGLY. Drae Johnson, LJ Turner and Marcel Dean combined for 57 points for UGLY, but they fell just short. Jon Brogan led the Hawgs with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
--MHP 30, Franchise 27 - As Stew (one of our refs) would say, quoting some arcane reference, "Sometimes it just be's like dat." This was actually a good game, clean, not a lot of fouls, but not a lot of scoring, either. This may the first time in a decade that we've had a game in which the winning team had no one scoring in double figures. Jayson Esquer led MHP with seven points and seven rebounds.
--Streetz 55, Zona 54 - Another blast from the past, Job Borboa, has rejoined the league after a long hiatus. His Streetz team is stacked with wily veterans who play good basketball, just...you know, below the rim. Manny Urquidez led Streetz with 17 points on five threes. Dominic Dicochea, who has scored 66 points in two games, was the leading scorer for Zona.
Our Player of the Week is Cellus Baker from LeBrontourage. Baker hit seven straight threes in the first 10 minutes of the game against Talkin' 'Bout Practice, then had to take off for a prior engagement. By then, LeBrontourage had a double-digit lead that it would maintain in the 77-52 victory.
Just a quick reminder: There is a slight chance that we will not have games on August 15th. The venue is having the floors re-done starting on Monday and it should be a two- or three-day job. But some factors--i.e. high humidity, a late start on the job--could push things back. Still, it's a 91.3% chance that we'll have games.
We will be starting the Fall League sometime in September and it will run through to just before Christmas. We already have several new teams that want to join in the Fall. It's going to be great.