In 24 hours, the Matadors TBT team went from having a possible $2 million dream to a elimination nightmare. This team composed of mostly Texas Tech alumni competed in The Basketball Tournament, which is dubbed as the largest basketball tournament in the world. Every summer for the past three years, all non-NBA players from around the world form teams and coaches with the dream of winning the grand prize of $2 million and being known as the best pickup basketball team in the world.
The Matadors, led by former Tech players Jaye Crockett, Toddrick Gotcher, and John Roberson, got into the tournament by having the 7th highest fan vote in the South region and 15th overall out of 180 teams. Danny Young, Head Coach of the Division II Montevallo, was chosen to be the head coach to bring it all home.
Once in the tournament, the Matadors were matched up with the very popular Washington Generals in the first round. The Generals were put together by former NBA player and current TNT analyst Kenny Smith, and are the team most known for suffering defeat at the hands of the Harlem Globetrotters every night. Saturday afternoon, the Matadors were prepared to give the Generals the same fate.
Led by former NBA player Sundiata Gaines and his 22 points, the Generals put up a tough fight as the game was close throughout. Washington were not able to exploit the Matadors small size inside and actually lost the rebounding battle by a wide margin. This led to many second chance points for Jaye Crockett and crew as the Matadors won a tight one 76-72 behind John Roberson’s 17 points.
The celebration for this Matadors victory was short lived as not only would the next game be the next day, but they would be playing the two-time defending champions Overseas Elite. Elite, led by former NBA player Dejuan Blair, had never taken a loss in this tournament since its inception and this was going to be a battle to move on.
The Matadors began the game incredibly hot. Letting the 3s rain as they did the day before. Roberson and company took an early double digit lead against the defending champs and looked dominant early on. Javonte Douglas, International professional from Montevallo, did his best for the Matadors against the larger opponent, putting up 17 points. However as the half wore on, Overseas Elite went on the run they usually go on and cut the lead down to two at halftime. Even with the lead, the Matadors were feeling the pressure as the head into the second half.
That pressure mounted as Overseas Elite continued knocking down shots. For the Matadors, the same shots that fell in the first half seemed to clank of the rim in the second. The Matadors finished 8/22 from 3 as they fell 78-67, thus ending their championship bid.
This was the first time the Matadors team has entered this tournament and with this amount of money on the line, one would think it will not be the last. Given the intensity of the game against the back to back champs, the Matadors know they can compete in this tournament and might possibly make a bigger run in the future.