The Basketball Tournament 2016: Championship Winner, Prize Money and Reaction
As Overseas Elite saw the deficit go from five, to 10, all the way up to 20, it looked like their dream had vanished. But then something happened: They never gave up.
Soon, Elite had dwindled the lead down to 15, 10 at the half and all the way to zero as they stormed from behind to earn a 77-72 victory over Team Colorado to win the 2016 Basketball Tournament. The roster will split a grand prize of $2 million, which was doubled from 2015 and 2014.
Overseas Elite are the first repeat winner of the nascent Basketball Tournament, which pits current and former professionals, amateurs and celebrities in a winner-take-all tournament format. Each player is designated a salary, and some of the biggest fan backers are even able to earn back their donations, which are necessary for the team to participate.
Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, who served as a booster because of his brother Errick's participation, commented on the win:
Overseas Elite's effort was led by tournament MVP Kyle Fogg, who averaged 21.8 points for the tournament. D.J. Kennedy and Myck Kabongo were also stellar, as the collection of players—nearly all playing basketball outside the United States, as their name would suggest—flexed their muscles in the second half.
The Elite held Colorado to just 26 points in the final 18 minutes and scored 41 of their own. Playing before a nationally televised audience on ESPN and with a major sponsor in Jack's Links, The Basketball Tournament has become a source of competitive pride for these players.
“At first, when I heard about this last year, I thought it was fake,” Fogg said, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. “It’s an amazing event—and it’s not even about the money. It’s great competition in the summer, they run it so well, and it gives our family and friends a chance to see us on national TV.”
Kabongo was sporting a championship belt after the game:
The first half was a story of surprising dominance from Team Colorado. Comprised of a group of Buffaloes alumni, Colorado got off to a red-hot start on both ends of the floor. They started off with a 7-0 run and never trailed in the first half. Overseas Elite trailed by as many as 20 points and were consistently down by double digits in the first 18 minutes.
If it weren't for foul trouble—Marcus Hall was sensational early on but had to sit when he picked up three fouls—it's possible Colorado would have pulled away. But Overseas Elite showed their experience by keeping a level head and inching their way back into the game. Defensive pressure forced Colorado into turnovers and bad shots, and by the break, Overseas Elite had trimmed the lead to a much more manageable 46-36.
The narrative shifted quickly in the second half.
Overseas Elite came out strong, quickly closing the gap to within a couple of baskets and settling the contest into a new normal of back-and-forth play. After the game did not see a single lead change or tie for the first 24 minutes, Elite and Colorado battled down the stretch in some of the most exciting, intense basketball you'll see all summer.
D.J. Kennedy came through with one of the finest blocks you'll see this side of LeBron James thanks to international goaltending rules, which was captured by Def Pen Sports:
Kennedy was also clutch in the final minute, knocking down an impossible contested shot that stretched the lead back to two possessions:
Kennedy and Fogg were named to the all-tournament team. Overseas Elite were the only team with multiple players considered among the five best. Hall was listed as an all-tournament performer for Colorado.
All told, it was a matter of Overseas Elite's talent winning out. Team Colorado played valiantly and held on to make it a game in the second half—a feat made all the more impressive by the fact they were down to one timeout most of the way—but the collection of talent on the other sideline was too much.
After the game, it didn't take long for Overseas Elite players to start discussing a three-peat. With a 13-0 record over two years and a pair of thrilling comebacks in the semis and finals under their belt, it's hard to count them out.