Another Air Force reunion

 

Most basketball players finish with college and never don their official uniform again. Not so for the guys playing for the Air Force Bomb SquadA 2014 entrant in TBT, the Bomb Squad is composed of Air Force Academy graduates who are all active duty Airmen in the United States Air Force. 

"Because we’re all over the country -- some of us are all over the world -- to get back together like this sounded like a great opportunity," Bomb Squad forward Nick Welch said last June at Philadelphia University. "No better opportunity to get back together than with a serious tournament."

The Bomb Squad's reunion last summer was short-lived.

The Bomb Squad drew a difficult assingment in facing The Citi Team, trailing by a dozen at halftime in a first round matchup on June 6. In the second half, Air Force made it a two-possession game, but, the early deficit was too much to overcome, falling to The Citi Team, 77-72.

"I’m really proud of guys," Bomb Squad GM/small forward Matt Holland said in the post-game press conference. "The group we had here was awesome. It was a lot of fun getting together again.

"That was the main thing I was looking forward to was representing the Air Force again. I think we did that well today, playing hard-nosed basketball."

A basketball uniform isn't the only uniform the players on the Air Force Bomb Squad wear. All active duty AF Airmen, the Bomb Squad is poised to make another run at TBT glory, having applied to play in the West Region (#LosAngeles). #thetournament TheTournament.com

Posted by The Basketball Tournament on Thursday, May 7, 2015

Nick Welch, who plays the vital center position in Air Force's "Princeton Offense," was in Squadron Officer School, an eight-week program at the Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. He needed special premission to participate in TBT, not knowing until Friday that he would be allowed to travel.

"I’m [at the training] with 730 of my fellow captains, and we’re all learning to be better leaders," he said. "They were excited for me to have the opportunity, so I’m definitely excited to go back and share the experience with them."

Following graduation, all of the Bomb Squad members had the opportunity to play for the all-Air Force team, which competes in events internationally and domestically. Others have also had the chance to play for the Department of Defense team, which participates in tournaments overseas. In December, the Air Force men's basketball team won the 2014 SHAPE International Basketball Championship in Lithuania. Holland was named MVP.

In Lithuania, Holland played alongside guard Evan Washington, who has been added to the Bomb Squad's TBT roster in 2015. The seven players the Bomb Squad feature in 2015 hail from six different states: California, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Texas and Utah. And althought the team ranks 13th in the West Regional (Los Angeles) currently with 59 votes, the Bomb Squad is a good bet to pass the 100 vote threshold and to qualify for TBT for a second straight year. 

"We really look forward to get back together [in 2015] and doing this again," Holland said.

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