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Ottawa holds off TG for title

Ottawa All-Blacks’ Achuil Lual, left, reaches to snare a rebound from TG for Life’s Greg Francis and Phil Munro during first-half action at the Provincial Black Basketball tournament final at The Tower on Sunday. The All-Blacks won in overtime 93-86. (Tim Krochak / Staff)

When the going gets tough, it helps to have three All-Canadians on your side.

Former Carleton Raven Jafeth Maseruka scored 30 points and recent Cape Breton graduate Eric Breland added 26 as the Ottawa All-Blacks held off the Toronto squad TG for Life 93-86 in overtime to win the Provincial Black Basketball Association tournament on Sunday at The Tower.

Boasting a roster laden with CIS talent and experience, the All-Blacks went 4-0 on the tournament, though TG for Life took them to overtime twice.

Ottawa’s starting lineup consisted of three All-Canadians — Maseruka, Breland and two-time CIS player of the year Osvaldo Jeanty — reigning AUS defensive player of the year Achuil Lual of Acadia and former St. Francis Xavier all-star Dion Williams.

All but Breland reached the CIS championship game at least once in their careers. Breland lost out in the 2006 national semifinals to a Jeanty-led Carleton team.

"It took us a little while (this weekend) to get back into a groove because we haven’t played together in a long time, but it was fun," said Lual, who’s playing this summer for the IBL’s Edmonton Chill. "We try to bring an ‘A’ game every time."

Ottawa took control early, racing out to a 9-0 lead in the game’s first two-and-a-half minutes. But the veteran Toronto team fought back and stayed close all game thanks to some hot shooting.

Greg Francis and Wilton Hall scored 23 points each and Rodney Hampton had 17 for TG for Life, and the trio combined for 15 three-pointers.

Hampton made a jumper and Francis hit a turnaround to give TG a 75-73 lead with 30 seconds left, but Breland scored at the other end to send the game to overtime tied at 75-75.

Tournament MVP Maseruka and all-star Breland took over in overtime. Maseruka converted a four-point play to make it 84-79 with 3:01 to play.

Breland hit two three-pointers in overtime and threw down a dunk with 1:06 left to send Ottawa ahead 91-84.

"(TG for Life) played really well and they played great defence down the stretch," said Lual. "But I think they might have run out of gas and we just executed down the stretch."

Breland, a Maryland native recruited to the Ottawa team by Jeanty, said he was impressed in his first trip to the 36th annual PBBA tournament.

"There’s a lot of talent, a lot of good competition here," he said. "It was a great weekend. I’ll definitely be back next year."

TG for Life’s Hampton was also named an ‘A’ Division all-star, along with Islam Luiz Toledo of Africville, Titus Channer of Jack Johnson and Devoe Joseph of the Toronto Subs.

Mathieu da Costa 90, Amesbury 78

In the ‘B’ Division final, former St. F.X. standout Fred Perry drew a warm welcome and then put on a show.

Perry, an All-Canadian and two-time national champion with the X-Men, made his first tournament appearance in five years after moving to Toronto to take a job at George Brown College.

"It’s like a homecoming for me," said Perry. "The welcome from the crowd coming back home was good. It was a lot of pressure, though. Everybody’s expecting me to perform at that level."

Perry didn’t disappoint, scoring 31 points to lead his Halifax-based squad in the final and earning tournament MVP honours.

Tournament all-star Cordell Wright added 17 points for Mathieu da Costa, while Donrick Thomas had 39 and Tab Donaldson added 12 for Toronto-based Amesbury.

Donaldson, Joey Hayward and Jauwawn States of Squaretown, and Christopher Johnson of the Nuforth Ballers were named division all-stars.

William Hall 79, Halifax All-Stars 76

In the over-35 ‘C’ Division, tournament MVP Mike Wall had 20 points and all-star Troy Jones netted 18 to lead William Hall to victory.

Augy Jones and all-star Wade Smith scored 18 apiece for Halifax.

Cole Harbour’s Steve Benton, Chris Cain of Team Dynamite and Paul Simmons of the Roy Fells South Stars were the other all-stars.

Ottawa faces TG in final

Mathieu De Costa’s Damon Cole, left and Nuforth Ballerz’s Paul Adams keep their eyes on the loose ball during action at the Provincial Black Basketball Association tournament at Citadel High in Halifax on Saturday. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff)

After a whistle halted play late in the first half, Rodney Hampton bent over with his hands on his knees and glanced up at referee Ken Fells.

"Is it half-time yet?" he panted, drawing a laugh from the crowd at Citadel High School.

Tired as he was after a gruelling string of must-win games, Hampton still had the strength to fill the net.

The Detroit native scored a game-high 29 points, knocking down seven three-pointers, to help TG For Life defeat the Toronto Subs 72-57 in an all-T.O. semifinal at the Provincial Black Basketball Association tournament on Saturday.

The victory capped a stretch of three games in seven hours for the TG squad. After losing Friday night in the double-knockout tournament, they had to win at 11 a.m. Saturday and then knock off defending champion Africville at 3 p.m. before taking on the Subs about 10 minutes later.

"What a long day. And I partied all night, stayed out until about 4 (a.m.)," Hampton admitted with a smile.

The Toronto Subs had it only slightly easier, playing their second game in three hours after losing a 1:30 p.m. semifinal to the Ottawa All-Blacks that would have sent them straight to today’s final.

But Hampton said he’s glad his squad played two in a row rather than a 90-minute layoff.

"I think that was good," he said. "Otherwise, we would have gotten tight."

A break did seem to hurt his squad, as they saw a 40-34 halftime lead disappear quickly when the Subs’ Sherone Edwards threw down a dunk to cap a 10-0 run and give Toronto a 44-40 lead.

But Hampton’s hot shooting put his team back in charge. He hit a three-pointer to give TG For Life a 51-50 lead and sank back-to-back triples just minutes later to restore a 61-52 cushion.

Shawn Gray added 17 points and Phil Munro had 11 for TG, while Edwards finished with 18 and Shawn Green had 13 for the Subs.

TG For Life makes its second straight appearance in the final, after losing 100-72 to Africville in last year’s championship game.

"When we went to the finals, the atmosphere (at Saint Mary’s) reminded me of college," said Hampton. "I promised the guys I would come back for another year after that."

Hampton admitted it felt good to eliminate Africville on Saturday afternoon. He netted 22 points in the game to lead TG For Life to a 68-62 win. Munro added 19 points in that game, while Nate Anderson had 20 and Christian Upshaw 18 for Africville.

In earlier action, the Ottawa All-Blacks stayed unbeaten with an 81-75 win over the Toronto Subs to advance to the final, where they’ll meet TG for Life today at 4 p.m. at The Tower.

Former Carleton standout Osvaldo Jeanty, who won five CIS championships and two national player of the year awards with the Ravens, scored 36 points to pace Ottawa.

Jafeth Maseruka and Eric Breland added 15 points each.

Minnesota-bound high school star Devoe Joseph had 15 to pace Toronto.

Jeanty, who played overseas in Germany this year, said he’s looking forward to getting back to the tournament final. His Ottawa squad lost in the championship game in 2003.

"It’s exciting. Everybody’s there and it’s a good atmosphere," Jeanty said. "It’s going to be a good game. (TG For Life) is older and experienced, and they play hard. It’s going to be a fun game."

Amesbury will take on Mathieu De Costa in the B division final today at 2 p.m.


Good hoops at the Black Basketball Tournament

From: Chad Lucas - May 15, 2008 05:28PM (IP Logged)
The annual Provincial Black Basketball Association tournament runs this weekend around metro Halifax. It's always an entertaining event with lots of high-calibre hoops, but this year's A division is particularly stacked. Check out some of the rosters in the 10-team division and where they've played before:

Africville: Nate Anderson, Nelson Carvery, Ikeobi Uchegbu (Saint Mary's); Tyler Richards, Garry Gallimore, Dwayne Johnson, Christian Upshaw, Islam Luiz Toledo (St. F.X.), Steve Nelson (Cape Breton)

Concord Baptist Church (Boston): Anthony Anderson (UMass); Jamaal Brooks, Wes Platt, Roger Roberts, Anis Taylor (ABA Boston Blizzard)

First Class Ballers: Eric Crookshank, Derico Wiggington-Downey (ABA Halifax Rainmen); Tremaine Fraser, Phillip N'Krumah, Chris Noddle (Cape Breton); Paulo Santana (Acadia, AUS MVP '07)

Jack Johnson: Titus Channer (McMaster, CIS player of the year 1998), Kurt Henry (SMU), Will Njoku (SMU, player of the year 1993)

Ottawa All-Blacks: Ryan Bell, Jean-Emmanuel Jean-Marie, Jafeth Maseruka (Carleton); Osvaldo Jeanty (Carleton, CIS player of the year 2006-07), Leonel Saintil (Acadia, AUS MVP '08), Dion Williams (St. F.X.), Eric Breland (Cape Breton)

Toronto Submarines: Antwi Atuahene (Arizona State), Alex Beason (Ryerson), Shawn Berry (Acadia), Aaron Duncan (SMU); Sherone Edwards (UPEI, AUS MVP '05), Devoe Joseph (Minnesota), Oliver Prince (Florida A&M)

If you're counting, that's three former CIS players of the year, a dozen All-Canadians, a handful of pro players and a few NCAA players as well. There aren't many open tournaments in North America that feature this level of talent.

Most of the A Division games take place at the North Preston Recreation Centre and at Citadel High, with the championship games in all divisions on Sunday at Saint Mary's. You can find the whole schedule at

Black tourney’s ‘A’ division features ‘A’ list of hoop stars

Africville’s finest hoop stars will have their work cut out for them as they look to defend their title at the 36th annual Provincial Black Basketball Association tournament.

With 10 teams featuring a "who’s who" of CIS stars past and present — plus a handful of ABA standouts — this year’s ‘A’ Division is the biggest and potentially the strongest the tournament has ever seen.

"This is probably going to be the best A Division yet," said PBBA president Carl Gannon. "Looking at the rosters, they look pretty competitive. There’s a lot of big names."

How tough is this field? Think a dozen current and former CIS All-Canadians, four former CIS Players of the Year, and a handful of others with professional experience — including Halifax Rainmen forward and fan favourite Eric Crookshank.

Crookshank is slated to team with former AUS MVP Paulo Santana of Acadia and Cape Breton Capers Tremaine Fraser, Phillip N’Krumah and Chris Noddle on the First Class Ballers — and they’re probably not the tournament favourites.

It’s hard to pick against the Ottawa All-Blacks, who boast four All-Canadians: two-time CIS Mike Moser Trophy winner Osvaldo Jeanty, his former Carleton Ravens teammate Jafeth Maseruka, reigning AUS MVP Leonel Saintil of Acadia, and Cape Breton Capers forward Eric Breland.

Throw in a couple more Carleton Ravens and former St. Francis Xavier point guard Dion Williams, and that’s one formidable lineup.

"On paper they look good," said former Saint Mary’s guard Nathan Anderson, last year’s tournament MVP with champion Africville. "A lot of teams look good on paper, but once that ball goes up, it’s just 10 guys battling out there."

Other teams in the field include:

• Jack Johnson, with former Moser winners Will Njoku and Titus Channer;

• Concord Baptist Church of Boston, last year’s ‘B’ Division winner, with ABA players Jamaal Brooks, Wes Platt, Roger Roberts and Anis Taylor;

• The Toronto Submarines, with Acadia’s Shawn Berry, Aaron Duncan of SMU, former UPEI standout Sherone Edwards, former All-Canadian Alex Beason, and highly touted Ontario high-schooler Devoe Joseph, who’s headed to Minnesota in the NCAA next year.

Of course, the Africville squad can hold its own. Made up mostly of current and former Saint Mary’s and St. F.X. players, their roster includes Anderson, AUS all-star Tyler Richards, two-time CIS defensive player of the year Garry Gallimore and AUS rookie of the year Islam Luiz Toledo.

As more and more top players from across North America show up for what has become one of the premier events of its kind, Anderson said there’s always plenty of pride at stake for the hometown team.

"There’s that much more because you’ve got the community here and it’s our home base," he said. "I can say from a personal standpoint that there’s always a very high level of pride."

The PBBA tournament begins today in gyms across metro, with most of the ‘A’ Division games being played at Citadel High and the North Preston Recreation Centre.

Finals in all divisions are Sunday at The Tower.



Nova Scotia’s Amazing “Provincial Black Basketball Association”

Posted by: Claude Johnson in Nova Scotia, Provincial Black Basketball Association, Black Ice, Racism, Black Fives Gear, ESPN, Nike, African Americans, Footwear

Next week is the 36th annual Black Invitational Basketball Tournament in Halifax, Nova Scotia, starting May 14.

Provincial Black Basketball Association

By far, this is the most amazing basketball tournament you’ve never heard of.


It’s run by the Provincial Black Basketball Association — the most amazing basketball organization you’ve never heard of … yet.

How do I know?

Because last year it was my honor to be invited by the P.B.B.A. to attend their 35th annual tournament so I could deliver the keynote address at their formal dinner and dance that accompanies the event — and catch some of the games.

Some of you may remember that my visit there was covered by the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

My first reaction was that I couldn’t believe the jaw-dropping talent. Their Slam Dunk Contest alone would make your head spin. (As the keynote speaker I got to be one of the judges!)

Check out the winning dunk (after a failed first try) by a superb baller nicknamed “Dipp”:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

The most amazing thing about this dunk isn’t the dunk but the audience. Look at all these black people! They goin’ craaazy! And do it always be this crowded? Yes!

To get to the final, Dipp’s dunk-off and the crowd reaction the night before was just as gorgeous:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Remember, this is Nova Scotia, y’all!

Claude Johnson with P.B.B.A. organizersClaude Johnson with two P.B.B.A. executive board members,
Dwight Hampden (l.) and Cecil Wright (r.).

First, have you ever even heard of Nova Scotia? (It’s in Canada, in its own province, East of Maine.)

All I can tell you is that it’s one of the most breathtaking places on earth. Halifax itself is a sight for soar eyes, a diamond hidden in the mist, a romantic treasure.

Nova Scotia has a surprising amount of black history.

Note that black Canadians call themselves African Americans. If you thought it was just us United States brothers up in here, you were wrong!

Nova Scotia has the largest per capita population of African Americans in all of Canada!

Why? Because it was the last stop on the Underground Railroad.

So many black folks ended up in Nova Scotia that they even created an all-black hockey league! That league, its teams , and their history are finally getting the attention they deserve — thanks to a fascinating new book called Black Ice, and ESPN’s coverage of the story.

The black community in Halifax is stunning. They’re unbelievably warm, gracious, humble, accepting, and embracing.

They look the same and dress the same (several cats were wearing Black Fives sneakers, for real!) and they even ball the same … but that’s where many of the comparisons stop.

I’m generalizing, of course, but I noticed a few things.

They’re punctual. They show up on time and events start on time. They love and respect each other and one another. Their aura and disposition are radiant and positive.


There isn’t the sense of anger, bitterness, self-poison, materialistic hunger, cynicism, and “gotta get mine” desperation that we often see down here in the United States — even though they’ve endured heavy doses of racial injustice and have plenty to be enraged about.

Not surprisingly, they’re very race conscious, but without being racist. For example, tournament policy requires that only all-black teams, including coaching staffs, can be invited to compete. (It’s a government sanctioned event, which tells you something.)

Black Nova Scotians are almost too humble, seemingly unaware of what they’re sitting on … what they really have … or what they’re capable of doing. They’re like a beautiful girl who doesn’t know (or think) she’s beautiful.

And that’s what makes the black Nova Scotia experience so charming.

By the way, I made many new friends on my visit up there last year, and they’ll be friends for life — indicative of the connection and bond we shared in a short amount of time. It was like meeting my long lost cousins. Literally, I suspect.

Now, the N.B.A.’s D-League is looking at Halifax as a possible expansion site. But they don’t seem to have any idea, because they apparently don’t even know about the P.B.B.A.’s annual tournament!

However, now you do!

This tournament and the many talented Halifax ballers are going to get discovered soon, big time.

Meanwhile, you can sneak up there next week (or next year) and make the whole trip into a family basketball and sightseeing vacation.
Friday, May 11, 2007

Black basketball event to offer feature tournament


This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Provincial Black Basketball Association’s invitational tournament and organizers are celebrating by adding a youth tournament for those between the ages of 12 and 15. Bryan Darrell has been with the tournament since the beginning and said the youth tournament, as well as the skills camp that was added last year, is important for the community. "Getting the youth involved is key," Darrell said Thursday at a press conference announcnig the tournament. "We use the opportunity to show them that referees are not the enemy. "It’s also a chance to teach them about black history and the tournament history. A lot of them don’t realize there was a time when there were only five or six black players at the local universities." The youth tournament starts today with the finals being played on Saturday. All games will be held at St. Patrick’s-Alexandra school and the Gottingen Street YMCA.
The regular tournament kicks off Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at St. Pat’s-Alexandra and Lt.-Gov. Mayann Francis will be on hand to toss up the opening ball. Association president Carl Gannon said the tournament is about more than basketball, it’s a cultural event. "This is very important to the black community," Gannon said. "Vacations are planned around it." Gannon has played in the tournament in 33 of the 35 years and says the biggest changes have been the size of the tournament and the strength of the competition."We started with three teams, and we now have over 30," said Gannon, adding that the calibre of play has increased by "leaps and bounds." This year’s tournament will feature some European professionals, including Halifax natives Jordan Croucher and Gabe Goree. Organizers say some North American professionals may get involved, but couldn’t confirm anything just yet.
Darrell stressed the economic importance of this event to the Halifax area, saying that it has a "significant impact" on the region. He added that all proceeds from the event are returned to the community, listing churches and volunteer fire departments as some of the main beneficiaries. The money also goes towards the association’s scholarship program, which is being expanded this year. Two student athletes at Saint Mary’s University, one male and one female, will receive $1,000 scholarships.
The women’s final will be played Saturday, May 19 at St. Pat’s-Alexandra. The men’s finals will be all played at Saint Mary’s on Sunday, May 20. The C Division championship for players 35 and older will go at noon, the B, or recreational, Division will play their title game at 2 p.m. and the A Division final will go at 4 p.m.Sunday’s festivities will include half-time entertainment and the tournament’s first dunk competition.
The full tournament schedule is available at

Local boys back and look good in basketball tourney openerRichards scores 18 points as Africville downs Toronto team  
By CHAD LUCAS Sports Reporter  Friday, May 18, 2007 - The Chronicle-Herad Newspaper


Basketball Association Tournament, Halifax players have assembled a star-studded Africville squad to
contend in this year’s 35th-anniversary event. "That’s all I heard about (last year), anytime I went to
any of the gyms to watch a game," said Tyler Richards, who played with the Ottawa All-Blacks last
year. "Everybody was like, ‘Oh Tyler, why don’t you guys have a team together?’" There was no
trouble recruiting this year, said Richards. The Africville squad includes six current CIS players –
Richards, Christian (T-Bear) Upshaw and Terrence Taylor of St. F.X., Cordell Wright and Ikeobi
Uchegbu of Saint Mary’s, and Dalhousie’s Germain Bendegue – along with former Huskies stars
Gabe Goree, Nate Anderson and Nelson Carvery.
The team opened play in the A Division on Thursday with an 89-73 win over the GTA Alliance of
Toronto at DalTech’s Sexton Gymnasium. Richards, an AUS all-star with the X-Men, had 18 points
to lead six Africville players in double figures. Upshaw and Carvery had 14 apiece, while Anderson
had 12. Taylor and Uchegbu each scored 10, with Uchegbu’s all coming in the second half. Carvery
sat out last year’s tournament after returning from a trip to Jamaica, but he said he couldn’t handle
watching from the stands.
"It wasn’t until I got back and started watching the games that I really wanted to play," he said. "So
I said, ‘This is never going to happen again.’" The Africville squad came out strong on Thursday,
jumping out to a 25-12 lead after a nice full-court play from Goree to Bendegue to Upshaw where the
ball never touched the floor.The balanced squad got plenty of scoring from Richards and Upshaw in
the first half before going inside to Uchegbu in the second. Carvery said he deliberately tried to put
together a bigger team this year. "I wanted to make sure we had enough big men to compete with all the big guys from Ontario," he said. The team looked to run as often as possible against the short-handed GTA squad and put together several gorgeous passing plays that led to easy layups. "This is my favourite time of year," said Richards. "It’s the basketball I grew up playing. There’s no systems, no organization really, it’s just free-for-all basketball. We’ve got a lot of chemistry that just comes from playing together." The GTA Alliance made an 8-0 run late in the second half to get within 12 points, but they could never cut the gap to single digits. Sammy Knights had 19 points for GTA while Aaron Duncan of Saint Mary’s, who was suspended from the Huskies in February for an off-court legal issue, scored 18. Monte Francois of Dalhousie added 10.
In other A Division games on Thursday, UPEI graduate Sherone Edwards had 28 points to lead TG For Life (Toronto) past the Marcus Garvery Raiders (Toronto East) 82-68, while Kevin Francis scored 21 to lead the North Preston-based 1st Class Black Loyalists past Toronto’s Jack Johnson 83-76.
Africville is looking to become the first local squad to win the tournament since St. F.X. teammates Jordan Croucher and Dennie Oliver helped Cash 22 take the title in 2003. Winning means a lot, said Richards. "I’ve made it to the championship and lost every year except my first year," he said. "I’ve had a bad streak of losses the last couple of years so I’m trying to end it here." Carvery said there’s extra incentive to win the tournament in this anniversary year.
"It’s been a while since Halifax won, but I heard they’re getting rings for the winners this year so I want a ring."

‘The world needs to know’ U.S. entrepreneur thinks black hoop tourney is special    
By CHAD LUCAS Sports Reporter  Saturday, May 19, 2007 - The Chronicle-Herad Newspaper

Claude Johnson thinks Nova Scotia’s annual Black Basketball Tournament is one of the best-kept secrets on this continent. "I’m not sure the locals know how cool this is," said Johnson, who’s the keynote speaker at the tournament banquet tonight at Casino Nova Scotia. "You should have SLAM Magazine, you should have all these different basketball nuts coming up to check it out every year."I think the world needs to know more about this tournament."
Johnson knows a little bit about unearthing well-kept secrets. The Connecticut entrepreneur has built a business out of his resarch on the Black Fives — all-black professional basketball teams that played in the early 20th century before integration. He was working in the NBA’s licensing department in 1996 when the league put out an encyclopedia of basketball to mark its 50th anniversary.
Johnson was surprised that the 800-page book featured just three pages on the Harlem Globetrotters and the New York Rens, two of the most prominent all-black teams. He had read Arthur Ashe’s book "A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African American Athlete," and knew there were many more squads out there. But finding them was the hard part. "I went to the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, all these historical archives and nobody knew anything," Johnson said. He unearthed the history of the old leagues by poring through the sports pages of black newspapers on microfilm dating back to the turn of the century. "I looked at the sports pages week after week, until my eyes were watery," he said.
Johnson found out that black communities have been playing basketball since 1904, not long after Canadian James Naismith invented the sport in 1891. Baseball icon Jackie Robinson played on a Black Fives squad, while New York Rens legend John Isaacs is credited with introducing the pick-and-roll — a staple offensive play — into the pro game.
Johnson, who has worked for the NBA, Nike, Phat Farm and Benetton, revived the Black Fives names and images through a clothing line that has been picked up by Nike and Converse. It has become a million-dollar business capitalizing on the recent retro craze in sportswear, "and I started the whole thing with nothing but a library card," Johnson said. But his goal is more than just running a profitable company. Each piece of Black Fives clothing comes with a tag detailing the story of the player and team, and Johnson frequently speaks to groups about the history of the league and his own tale of hard work and success.
He appeared at two Halifax schools on Friday before taking in some tournament games in North Preston. "I’ve always been taught that if you can do something, you’re obligated to, especially if it helps people," he said. Johnson said he sees that potential in the black tournament, to be about more than just sport. The tournament’s board of directors have added a scholarship and a youth program in recent years, and the annual weekend has become as much as a social and cultural gathering as a sporting event. "I’m impressed with the level of play and the level of organization," Johnson said. "I really believe that social issues can be affected by sport. My mind has started racing with all the different things that I see … you’ve gotten it to a point where it’s poised for a lot of things."

Created by: Chris Downey -- Last updated:May 20, 2008