Championship banners were raised; scholarships were awarded and summer showcase basketball began as the No Excuses Foundation ProAm Summer League tipped off Wednesday, July 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fonde Recreation Center in Houston, Texas.
Over 200 fans and athletes poured into the gymnasium to watch professional basketball players compete in showcase games and events. The main event of the night featured a rematch of last year’s finals of the reigning summer league champions Competitive Choice and Baseline Houston.
After a slow start in the first quarter, Choice went on to dominate the remainder of the game.
Led by Shaquille Burrell and Jordan Clark from the second quarter, who each finished with 14 points, Competitive Choice defeated Baseline Houston 64-51 in the first showcase game of the evening. Burrell set the tone for Choice early in the second quarter, which created opportunities for his teammates to get involved in the game.
“That’s just our game,” said Clark. “We started off slow a little bit then picked it up on the defensive end. Shaq set the tempo for us, and he was able to help us get into the rhythm of the game.”
Burrell credited the early mistakes of Competitive Choice to this being the first matchup for the team.
“For a lot of us, it is our first time playing together. It is our first game, so we did have a slow start but we picked it up through the second half,” said Burrell.
Competitive Choice coach Casey Williams thoroughly focused and prepared for this evening’s game, stating that the team’s motto is “you stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready.”
“We knew they were going to be a tough team,” said Williams. “We kind of retooled a little bit, and they added about three to four players. We try to come out; we feel like if play our game, we are confident that we will win against anyone.”
Coach Williams has no plans of switching up his preparation strategy for his team’s next game in the league.
“[We] come out, be a predator, and just try to execute.”
In addition to the showcase games, the foundation presented a $500 scholarship to Antonio Sans, a student at the Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, for his academic success.
There was also an NBA-style three-point contest and a dunk competition. Eddie Barlow, former point guard at Sam Houston State University, won the three-point shootout making a total of 34 shots in three rounds of competition. Sir Isaac White, contestant on season 2 of “The Dunk King,” stole the show with his high-flying slams and won the first-place title in the contest.
Day 1 of the official Summer Pro League games will be held Monday, July 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fonde Recreation Center. Admission to the event is free.
For more information, scores or volunteer opportunities, visit the website www.noexcusesfoundation.net.