Hanscom team wins, represents military during hall of fame tourney
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Hanscom team members celebrate after winning the championship of the Hoops and Heroes tournament at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Aug. 7. The team will go on to represent the base and first responders of New England during the national tournament in late September. (Courtesy photo)
Posted 8/26/2011 Updated 8/26/2011
by Peter Blackburn
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
8/26/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- A team from Hanscom won the second annual "Hoops and Heroes" regional basketball tournament held in Springfield, Mass., earlier this month. Hanscom's squad beat out ten other teams made up of first responders from New England and helped raise money for the Special Olympics of Massachusetts in the process.
The two-day tournament kicked off Aug. 6 at Springfield College, which played host to the first round of games. The semifinal and final rounds were held the next day on center court at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.
"I wasn't really sure what to expect from the other teams heading into the tournament, but it was some pretty good competition," said 1st Lt. Robert Giannini, the executive officer of the Space and Nuclear Networks Division in the Cyber/Netcentric Directorate, who played forward for the championship team.
Besides the Hanscom representatives, competitors included teams from the U.S. Coast Guard, police departments from Springfield and Boston, sheriff departments from Hampden, Hampshire, Berkshire and Suffolk counties, the Hampden County District Attorney's office, York Correctional Institution of Connecticut and a law firm.
Despite the talented competition, Hanscom's squad was able to defeat each team they faced by ten or more points, including their matchup in the championship against the Boston Police Department.
"We had a few games that started off very close, but the combination of youth, athletic ability and experience on our team helped propel us to victory," said Lieutenant Giannini. "We ran a full court press every game and that helped wear down our opponents as the games went on."
Lieutenant Giannini was one of eight Airmen on the winning team who is stationed at Hanscom. The squad also featured two Airmen from Cape Cod, one from Ft. Hood and one MITRE contractor from Hanscom.
"We pretty much all knew each other heading into the tournament. We practiced a few times at the base gym and a lot of us have played intramurals with or against each other," he said. "The team chemistry was there."
Following their victory, the team was invited back to the hall of fame for a special enshrinement ceremony on Aug. 12, where they received a standing ovation from a large crowd.
"We got a ton of support during and after the tournament because we were one of two military teams involved," the lieutenant said. "I think people were definitely rooting for us, which made the experience more enjoyable."
The team spent most of the ceremony hanging out with former NBA player and basketball broadcaster Charles Barkley. Many other basketball greats were in attendance, as well, including Dennis Rodman, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, Mark Jackson, Hubie Brown, Phil Jackson and Chauncey Billups.
"Being there at the ceremony amongst all the legends was sort of a surreal feeling," said 1st Lt. Christian Evans, the team captain from Cape Cod AFS, Mass. "It was a huge honor."
The team was presented with a large trophy for their victory in the tournament. They can only keep the trophy for a year until next year's tournament begins, but they don't seem too eager to give it up.
"We'll definitely be back next year to compete and hopefully defend the regional title," said Lieutenant Giannini. "And we'll be competing in the national tournament in late September, so hopefully we'll have the same success there."
Capt. Connor Benedict, Hanscom
Capt. Frank Boyce, Hanscom
2nd Lt. Derrick Brooks, Hanscom
1st Lt. Evan Dadosky, Hanscom
Capt. Tara Dunn, Cape Cod AFS, Mass.
1st Lt. Christian Evans, Cape Cod AFS, Mass.
1st Lt. Robert Giannini, Hanscom
1st Lt. Adam Hood, Hanscom
Capt. Tim Keller, Hanscom
Jim Marois, MITRE
1st Lt. Charles Wells, Ft. Hood, Texas
Capt. Jon Wilson, Hanscom