February 7, 2014 --
Military and civilian basketball enthusiasts wanting to play pickup basketball games during their lunch times can play weekdays from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Thomason Gymnasium, here.
The games feature players with medium-to advanced-level experience, according to Tom Bell, manager, Thomason Gym, Marine Corps Community Services, MCLB Albany. However, players are welcome at any skill level.
Bell said he would like to see more players on the court and welcomes anyone who wants to come out and compete.
Bell explained the rules of the court:
* It is first come, first serve.
* All players must sign the board located inside the gym.
* Baskets are one point each.
* There are no referees, so players call their own fouls.
* Games end at seven points or eight minutes with high score being declared the winner after time has expired.
* The clock will only stop during the last minute of the game.
* If the game is tied after eight minutes, overtime is as follows:
First overtime is two minutes.
If tied, double overtime is one minute.
If still tied after double overtime, sudden death, first team to score wins.
* The winning team stays on the court.
* Constant arguing will result in the individual or individuals being asked to leave the court.
Bell calls the 10-20 players who play at the gym each day, “regulars.”
One of those regulars is Maj. Lee Taylor, better known as “major” to the other players.
According to Taylor, he plays Mondays - Thursdays because he enjoys the game.
“No one will be turned away,” he said. “Everybody will recognize each player’s skill level once (he or she) is on the court.
“We play to the person’s strengths and try and teach him or her what we know,” he said.
Another player who frequents Thomason Gym is JaVoris Bland, son of Kurt Bland, deputy director, Communications and Information Systems Division, MCLB Albany. He is a Darton College student who is working toward a nursing degree and plays whenever his schedule allows.
“I grew up playing basketball and I have a good relationship with these guys out here,” Bland said. “Marines are always competitive and if you work hard on the court, they will share and teach you what they can, but you have to play hard because effort is key to the game.”
Taylor has played basketball throughout his 27-year Marine Corps career and has many long-term relationships to prove it.
“I arrived at Marine Corps Systems Command in August 2013, and Marines I played basketball with during lunch in Okinawa, Japan, are here and I am playing against them again,” he said.
A lot of relationships are built on the court because there is a common bond, according to Taylor.
“Basketball builds camaraderie and competition among Marines and civilian-Marines,” he said. “Not only is basketball a good source of physical training, it brings out the competitive nature in Marines.”
Taylor considers the players as family members and hopes to build new friendships through the lunchtime games.
Bell also discussed a new, more competitive basketball league that is approaching soon.
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s basketball league has joined forces with the Albany Area YMCA to create a more competitive league.
Games will be played at Thomason Gym Tuesday and Thursday nights. Games will be at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
For more information about the pickup basketball games or the YMCA/MCLB Albany league, call 229-639-5246.