Playaz Earn Gold Championship at Adidas It Takes 5ive Classic
The top Adidas sponsored teams from around the country gathered this week in Cincinnati for the Adidas It Takes 5ive Classic, the marquee event of the shoe company’s grassroots basketball division.
Although the New England Playaz entered the tournament with high hopes, they knew they were fighting certain disadvantages. While most of the teams in the field have been honing their cohesiveness throughout the spring, that hasn’t been the case for New England’s only Adidas sponsored team. The Playaz were faced with an abundance of injuries and scheduling conflicts in recent months that never really allowed them to play together at full strength.
Making the situation even more complicated, the Playaz are not your typical AAU team. Coached by former Boston Celtics and Duquesne head coach John Carroll, this team isn’t the type of group that is just going to show up at a tournament and throw the ball out. They are coached to play the game the right way – defend, share the ball, and take good shots.
But everything came together for the Playaz this week as they went 6-1 in the tournament and came away with a blowout victory over the Atlanta Celtics in the championship of the gold bracket.
“Our kids did a wonderful job in our first tournament of the summer,” said Carroll. “We grinded out six wins against some very good teams and that was culminated with a win against a high profile organization, which speaks volumes about our team.”
Erik Murphy dominated the final game, as well as his match-up with the nation’s #1 ranked player in the class of 2009, Derrick Favors. Murphy finished with a game high 25 points, while holding Favors to only 6.
Nadir Tharpe also starred throughout the tournament. Although reports were all over the internet about how he was impossible to keep out of the lane on Sunday and Monday, he also seemed to have saved his best for last as he handed out double figure assists in the final. New England Playaz Director T.J. Gassanola summed up his point guard’s game by saying he was “unreal running the team”.
Although Murphy and Tharpe may have been the stars of the final, it certainly appears as if this was a complete team effort. Nate Lubick, Austin Carroll, Jordan Williams, Gabe Kindred, and Dartaye Ruffin all stepped up at various points throughout the weekend to help the Playaz win their pool and then get past the South Carolina Celtics in the quarter-finals and the New Orleans Jazz in the semi-finals.
“I’ve enjoying coaching this group of kids because they bought into what we’ve been trying to do,” said Carroll. “I’m also really excited for all of them because I think the college coaches enjoyed watching our team play because we played the right way. Each of the kids did an unbelievable job in their own right.”