DC Sports Day

Familiar DC Hoops Faces Playing For $2 Million Payoff

Pops Mensah-Bonsu
By Ultraslansi - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

While most DC hoops fans are looking towards October to see how the fortunes of the Wizards will turn, a core group of former DC and Maryland based hoopsters will again try and make their own dreams come true, $2 million worth, if they can play through a talent packed summer basketball event that starts this weekend in Charlotte and Los Angeles, and then plays Philly and Chicago the following weekend.

It is called The Basketball Tournament, and now in its third year (and with Jack Links as a title sponsor), it will offer the winner of the 64 team field a cool $2 million in prize money. The event, created by Boston entrepreneur Jon Mugar, will conclude in early August at Fordham University’s Rose Hill Gym in New York before a national TV audience on ESPN.

However in order to get there, teams, comprised of seven to 10 players most with professional experience, must play through  a series of regionals, with two prominent District teams looking to come out of the Philly regional set for next weekend. The two teams are City of Gods, a Baltimore-based team that almost won the whole $1 Million prize last year, and Team Maryland, which boasts some other familiar names for the DC faithful.

City of Gods is managed by former George Washington standout Lafonte Johnson, and coached by former Wiz development coach Joe Connelly. They are a squad filled with five former NBA players, including Pops Mensah-Bonsu, the former Olympian from London who spent nine years in both the NBA and overseas after an amazing career at George Washington. NBA lottery picks Michael Sweetney (Georgetown) and DerMarr Johnson as well as Xavier Silas and Hamady Ndiaye all played major roles for a team which won four of five games by more than 10 points last year on the way to the event semi-finals. The team will also have the 31st overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft, James White, as well as Georgetown alum and guard Chris Wight.

Then there is Team Maryland, also touted as one pf the top teams, and also playing in the Philly regional. The team is led by former Maryland stars Juan Dixon and John Auslander, and features former NBA’ers Kyle Hines, Quincy Miller and Mike James.

While both teams are pretty loaded with veteran professionals, they must get through a first weekend at The University of Philadelphia against squads made up of Syracuse alumni, star members of Villanova’s recent basketball past, and teams from Temple and LaSalle, among others. The full breakdown of the event can be found at https://www.thetournament.com/, as two local squads try to bring the dollars back home.