The 554th Engineer Battalion went undefeated in the 2019 Commander’s Cup 3-vs.-3 Basketball Tournament, winning three round-robin games before beating the 14th Military Police Brigade 17-14 to bring home the championship trophy.
The one-day tournament was held Friday at Davidson Fitness Center with a format intended to be much faster than traditional basketball. Played on a half court, each game was only 15 minutes in length and played to a score of 21 or until time ran out. Field goals counted for one point instead of two, while distance shots from outside the arc counted for two points instead of the traditional three.
Each of the four participating teams played three round-robin games before the two teams with the best records — the 554th with a record of 3-0 and the 14th MP Bde. at 2-1 — played for the championship, while the remaining teams played in the tournament’s third-place game.
Sports Branch representative Tatiana Pickett presented the first-place trophy to 554th Engr. Bn. players Edward Jacobs, Emmanuel Eleby, Aaron Williams and Cory Robinson.
The 14th MP Bde. team of Horace Yrojo, Brandon Williams and Cody Sullivan were presented with the second-place trophy.
The 515th Sapper Company team of Broderick Pitt, Brandon Wade and Marquis Joseph took third place after winning the third-place game 16-13 against the 31st Engineer Battalion team of Lorenzo Reyes, Barrett Whealton, Erik Reyes and Wendell Burley, who finished in fourth place.
Jacobs, who led the 554th Engr. Bn. with nine points in the tournament final, said it took him a few games to adjust to the new format.
“I was a little cold (and) a little nervous,” Edwards said. “But then once I got warm I started hitting shots; our team got better passing the ball and everything started evening out — that’s how we got the win.”
The 554th Engr. Bn. began round-robin play by beating the 14th MP Bde. 21-10 in the second game of the tournament, and went on to defeat the 31st Engineer Battalion 21-8 before earning a 16-13 victory over the 515th Sapper Company.
“The most fun I had would have to be our game against the Sappers,” Robinson said. “We’re both engineers, and we work with them every now and then.”
Earlier, the 14th MP Bde. kicked off round-robin play with a 21-11 win over the 515th Sappers. After falling to the MPs in their second game, they bounced back to earn a 22-5 win over the 31st Engr. Bn.
The 515th Sapper Co. beat the 31st Engr. Bn. 12-10 in their round-robin game.
The 554th Engr. Bn. team hadn’t played together before the tournament but quickly jelled on the court, according to Aaron Williams.
“It was pretty awesome,” Williams said after the awards presentation. “This was the first chance I had to play with these guys, and we clicked right off the bat. I think the toughest game was the first one. We still had to get a feel for the game, for the other team and for each other at the same time. So, I think that was the hardest thing. Once we started clicking and got the first couple of shots, it all came together.”
For Eleby, the player/coach for the 554th, the 3-vs.-3 tournament was a preliminary test run for putting together his unit’s roster for the upcoming intramural basketball season, which starts in January.
“This was a chance to figure out who my go-to guys are and who I can depend on and build my roster from there,” Eleby said. “This was a great start.”
The tournament was the 17th and final event in the 2019 Commander’s Cup Series. Chief of Sports Coleman Swinton told players that the final standings in the series would be announced soon to unit sports representatives.
The 2020 Commander’s Cup Series will soon be under way with the flag-football tournament kicking off events in mid-October following the end of the current intramural season.