Whether The Basketball Alumni Legends League, or The-BALL, makes it as a viable professional league is a question mark.
For one night, though, it was fun to see high-quality basketball featuring big-name local college players in a familiar setting.
It was surprising that the Philly team fell for the second straight day to a group of players from D.C., anchored by several talented Georgetown alums. The outcome mattered less, though, than the quality of basketball, the intensity, the hustle, the close result and the thought that The-BALL might, just might, have something here.
“It was good to come back and represent Philly,” former Temple standout Dionte Christmas said after scoring 14 points in the hosts’ 102-94 loss at Hagan Arena. “I think we played hard. It was good to come back and play with all of my former rivals in the Big 5.”
It was good to watching them, too.
Besides Christmas, there was Ramone Moore, Mark Tyndale, Dustin Salisbery and Ryan Brooks from Temple; Pat Carroll, Dwayne Jones and Tasheed Carr from St. Joe’s; Rodney Green from La Salle; Frank Elegar and Scott Rodgers from Drexel; and Curtis Sumpter from Villanova.
“It was good,” said Moore, one of the youngest players on the team. “Growing up and watching these guys on TV it was a great opportunity. We all wanted to win but we wanted to take this opportunity to team up with each other.”
Moore scored 10 points, one of three Owls to reach double-figures. Brooks added 10 points for Philly. Elegar led the hosts with 16 points, including several highlight-reel dunks.
“It went well,” said Moore, who signed last week to play in Italy. “Me, Dionte, Ryan, Mark and Dustin, we all took pride in representing Temple. We jumped right on it. We all just want to be part of Philly basketball. It was a great thing to get together. It was a good weekend for us.”
As competitors, it would’ve been greater obviously for Philly to come out on top. But the locals, who lost 101-93 on Saturday at the Smith Center on the campus of George Washington University, once again had trouble against their rivals from south on I-95.
Jason Clark, the ex-Georgetown star, cut Philly up for 25 points and was one of four former Hoyas to reach double-figures. Chris Wright had 15 points, Henry Sims added 14 and Austin Freeman chipped in 13.
Philly led 87-76 with 6 minutes, 50 seconds remaining before the visitors took advantage of some of The-BALL’s rules changes to score 11 points in 1:08 to forge an 87-87 tie. Two of the baskets came on four-point shots, which were converted from beyond a 24-foot arc. Another basket came on Wright’s traditional three-point play that was earned with a basket and foul and automatically good free throw.
From there, D.C. outscored Philly 15-7 to go up 2-0 on the series that is scheduled to resume next summer when The-BALL opens a shortened season with four teams.
Despite the loss, the showcase games were deemed a success by the losing contingent.
“It was a great opportunity,” said Sumpter, who like Carroll was playing in his final pro game after a career overseas. “When I first heard the idea, I jumped right on it. I knew I was coming to an end in my career. So I just called these guys up. I played against these guys. They were great players.”
Christmas, who recently signed with the Boston Celtics, said he looks forward to participating in future events.
“I would, for sure,” he said. “Anytime I can represent Philly. It’s cool. I’m available and I’m definitely on board. Some of these guys I definitely didn’t get to talk to as much. Anytime we have this event, I’m definitely on board.”
-More coverage coming: Philahoops will have more coverage from The-BALL’s showcase game throughout the week.