With recent and current Syracuse royalty in the stands, Boeheim’s Army couldn’t come out and disappoint. Tyus Battle and Malachi Richardson sat in the stands at the Steinberg Wellness Center at LIU-Brooklyn watching teammates and fellow former Orange stars escape past the South Jamaica Kings 90-72 in game one of The Tournament, an annual basketball competition with a 2 million dollar prize. The final score may not indicate it, but quite frankly, it looked like Boeheim’s Army could’ve used the guys in the stands in the early going.
Forget the Vermont and Richmond upsets. This would have been arguably the worst unofficial loss in Orange history. The Kings, a 16 seed comprised of largely low level Division I, Division III and NAIA players, went up against some of the greatest players to ever play in central New York. Boeheim’s Army trailed for almost eight minutes of the first half and played back and forth all night.
But an Orange heavy crowd helped the team squeak out a victory, helping Boeheim’s Army outscore the Kings 47-31 in the second half. Midway through the second quarter, John Gillon hollered at his former teammate Battle in the stands, telling him that “they better not let me get hot, Tyus.” But the Kings didn’t get the memo. Gillon was the spark off the bench Boeheim’s Army so desperately needed. He poured in a game-high 32, including a team best with six three pointers. He looked like the John Gillon that put up 43 against NC State or hit a miraculous buzzer beater against Duke.
Aside from Gillon, Demetris Nichols was another standout on the floor. NIchols, currently playing in Croatia, was locked in a trash talk battle all night with the Kings’ Akeem Bennett, but the former Orange clearly got the better of him in the contest.
In the Elam Ending finish, the target score was set at 90. Boeheim’s Army needed just 7, while the Kings needed 25. It was a quick and easy finish for the Syracuse alum.
Boeheim’s Army’s next game is tomorrow against the winner of Team Fancy, a team comprised of largely international players, and Saints Alive, a Siena alumni team.