Armed Forces Basketball Championship kicks off

By Cpl. Keenan Zelazoski Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

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The Armed Forces Basketball Championship kicked off at 1:00 p.m. at the Paige Fieldhouse, Nov. 7.

Over the next week, 72 service members from the All Marine, Navy, Army and Air Force basketball teams will compete in the inter-service challenge to determine who will walk away with a new trophy, bragging rights and the chance to compete on the international level at the Du Sport Militaire Championship in Belgium.

“This is an opportunity for service members to build camaraderie across all the military branches,” said Theresa Flores, director of the AFBC.

Not only does the tournament build inter-service camaraderie, it provides an outlet for individual members to play a sport they are passionate about.

“Being able to play against top-of-the-line competitors from different military branches and different walks of life is an honor,” said Alyssa Aitken, forward for the Army Women’s team.

Many of the athletes competing have played basketball for the majority of their lives.

“We have the best players from each branch playing on the same court,” said Chris Reighard, who will alternate between forward and center for the Marine Corps Men’s team. “The high level of competition here will provide the best athletes with an outlet to become even better.”

The players have practiced twice a day for approximately two weeks to earn a spot on their respective team. An all-star team will be selected by the Armed Forces Committee at the conclusion of the contest, to represent the United States military in Belgium.

“Basketball is non-stop,” said Reighard, who has played the sport for 20 years. “For the love of the game we keep playing.”

The Air Force faces off against the Navy after the opening ceremony, and when both the men and women’s team conclude their games, the Army will face the Marine Corps.

The next seven days will be a round robin-tournament, where every team plays each other twice. The top two teams will play in the championship games on Nov. 13.

The games begin at 1:00 p.m. each day until the end of the tournament.

For more information and to keep up with each team’s progress in real-time, visit the Marine Corps Community Services athletics webpage at http://www.mccscp.com/athletics/.