|Rollin' the Dream League Dice (cont.'d)|
About 500 crazed weekend warriors from all over the place: the Bay Area, Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, and even New York City were in the house (and mostly at the Tarkanian Academy which was the largest facility that saw 3 games going on at once at all times from noon to 10 at night -- my guess is, had the namesake venerable former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian walked in, he would have been floored).
Yao director Christopher Chen gave a Q&A to our crowd at the Palms.
And these were just the players. Families and friends filled the sidelines as they took in the competition, enjoyed each others company, making new friends while rekindling the old.
That’s just the beauty with the Dream League tournament -- the participants are crazy about playing the game, but the event has a greater purpose -- to serve as a stage for the community to come together for having fun, developing friendships, and assisting inner-city youth.
Let’s not forget this last point as that’s the credo of Dream League, which currently has operations in the Bay Area and New York City: to use the game of basketball as a platform to give disadvantaged youth the opportunity to improve themselves in order to increase their GPAs, graduation rates, and admissions into four-year colleges. Teammate, husband, friend, mentor. These words are the essence and spirit of what Dream League is all about. Whether you were a team member, spectator, or volunteer, you played an important role for someone.
Speaking of playing, let’s not forget the games upon games upon games that took place. This is where if you weren’t so much a fan of the game, you might want to stop here. But since you have come this far, perhaps you are one after all.
|Teammate, husband, friend, mentor. These words are the essence and spirit of what Dream League is all about.|
Saturday was just a zoo of hoops. There was no other way to say it.
Pool play in three divisions (6-foot-and-under, "Masters" aka over-35-years-old, and "Open" aka any and all of the above) showcased a whirlwind of backdoor cuts, three pointers, shake-and-bakes, rejections, stop and pops, coast to coasts, and even the occasional dunk. Yes, I said dunk. (A long time ago I might have said something smart about how yes, Asians can jam, but nowadays it’s so common that no remark is required.)
The best game of the day was a matchup in the Open Division pitting the San Jose Ballers against the New York City Dream League Selects. The much smaller NYC team gutted out a nail-biting 71-70 win against the favored bad boys from the South Bay that had the entire gym rocking as guards CB Liu and Quincy Tso drained 3 after 3 and NYC’s lone true big man Tony Hu played through a knee injury to score the upset.
While it was it was big win, it was one of only nearly 50 big wins on the day. When you come from far away to play, every win in every game is big. When all was said and done on Saturday, tournament coordinators Rich Twu (Dream League’s Executive Director) and Raffy Consing (who actually plays in Dream League back in the Bay Area) worked on Sunday’s playoff seeding and scheduling from midnight until 5am in the morning before notifying all teams at 8am of what time they were to play and where (remember there were seven courts on four gyms).
Is this beginning to feel like an episode of 24? Every hour counted and the pace was exhausting.