Misawa Jets bounce into championship
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- As the final quarter nears and sneakers leave streak marks across the wooden floors, the anticipation rises. Adrenaline fills the court while the last “buzz” rings throughout the room.
For the Misawa Jets basketball team, this is a routine.
The Jets were selected to compete in the National Military Basketball Tournament to represent Pacific Air Forces over Memorial Day weekend at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, which featured 17 male teams and five female teams.
“I feel proud to be their coach,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marcus Hollins, the Misawa Jets basketball coach. “It’s a great feeling to see their hard work showcased on the court, and it was an honor to play during the tournament.”
In order to compete in the National Military Basketball Tournament, the team had to qualify by winning a majority of their played games. The best military basketball teams around the world competed in this 10-year-old tournament based in Texas.
Looking back, the Jets recognize their biggest victory as the Christmas Tournament. When the team won the event at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, one of the largest basketball competitions within the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, they started to standout from their sister services teams and received international recognition.
“At first, the team only came close to winning smaller tournaments, but we finally pulled together by winning the two large games,” said Staff Sgt. Darian Donald, the 35th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of personnel and administration.
The team formed in 2015 after winning their very first tournament, the Yokota Air Base Classic. Since then, they continue to practice and compete across the Pacific.
“With our schedules and limited gym time, it is hard to practice,” Hollins stated. “When we come together to rehearse, we put in a lot of hard work to try to achieve our goals.”
Being the top military basketball team, the Jets received an automatic slot into the National Military Basketball Tournament.
Since its inception in 2015, the team has gathered 12 awards and participated in three championships.
“It feels pretty good to accomplish what we have as a team since 2015,” said Donald. “I arrived to Misawa AB in July 2014, and there wasn’t a squad—just a few people interested in basketball. Hollins and I helped garner players and build a basketball program able to compete with other bases. To be third overall for this national tournament was very complimentary to the hard work put in toward creating and propelling this team to their potential.”
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