WHO ARE: TEAM 23 TBT 2017

 

Quick Hits

Bid: 2015 West Regional Champions

Notable Players: Zach Andrews, Davin White, Larry Owens

Number of Active Pros: 9

TBT History: 2015 runner ups and champions of the West. Made it to the Super 16 in 2016.

Nutshell: Not too many big names on this team, but they're always set up for a deep run. Smart team that prides themselves on defense. Davin White is a walking bucket.

What to know

- Team 23 fell to Overseas Elite, 67-65, in the 2015 TBT Championship Game.

- Davin White averaged 24.3 points per game in TBT 2015.

- The Arizona-based squad is named after Michael Jordan.

How they fared in TBT 2016  

Super 16: Coleman's hot shooting day leads Colorado to upset of Team 23

A balanced scoring attack, in which five Colorado players scored double figures, led the Buffalo alumni to an upset win over 2015 runner-up Team 23. The win serves as revenge for Colorado, who was bounced by Team 23 in the second round last year. Dominique Coleman (16 points) had a perfect shooting day, going 4 for 4 from the field and 6 for 6 from the charity stripe to lead Colorado. Marcus Hall added 15 his own. Frank Gaines was the top-scorer for Team 23, scoring 18 in the losing effort.

 

Round 2: Gaines leads Team 23 over New Mexico RH 

Team 23 used seven first-half 3-pointers to build a 14-point halftime cushion and cruised to a 101-88 win over New Mexico RH to advance to the Sweet 16. Frank Gaines led all scorers with 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field, including 5-of-8 from deep. Spanish premier leaguer and point guard Davin White added 19 points and commanded the floor with seven assists. Scott Bamforth, Damian Lillard's teammate from his days at Weber State, scored a team-high 27 points for New Mexico RH to go with six assists.

 

Round 1: Tubbs carries Team 23 to victory over Kimchi Express

It didn't take long for West region No. 1-seed Team 23 to erase any doubts of victory. Led in scoring by Justin Tubbs, who poured in 25 points on 10-of-11 from the floor, Team 23 scorched Kimchi Express by making two-thirds of its shots in the first half and cruised to a 121-81 win. Seven players scored in double figures for Team 23, who largely sat its usual rotation players after establishing a 61-31 lead by halftime. For Kimchi Express, center Shane Seymour dropped 22 points on 6-of-13 from 3-point range, where his team hoisted 50 of its 78 field goal attempts.

 

How they fared in TBT 2015

Championship: Overseas Elite wins TBT, takes home $1,000,000

D.J. Kennedy originally chose to attend St. John’s University because he liked the university’s location in New York City.  On Sunday afternoon, in the $1 million championship game of The Basketball Tournament, Kennedy proved that he still felt right at home in the Big Apple, scoring a team-high 24 points as Overseas Elite held on in the final seconds to defeat Team 23, 67-65.

“We’ve got a group of unselfish guys,” said Overseas Elite coach Colin Curtin after watching his team hold on for the victory.  “Tonight, D.J. was our guy.  He was a warrior.”

Kennedy finished 8-for-15 from the field and tied for a team high with four steals. 

“There was $1,000,000 on the line,” said Kennedy. “We knew they weren’t going to back down, and we weren’t going to back down, either.”

Errick McCollum II completed a strong tournament by scoring 15 points in the win for Overseas Elite, which nearly missed out on this year’s tournament due to a shortage of players at the first round in Atlanta last month.

“It’s a special moment,” reflected McCollum after the win. 

Davin White capped off his outstanding tournament with a game-high 34 points in the losing effort for Team 23.

“He was the best player in the whole tournament,” said Team 23 GM Michael Illiano.

White went 11-for-20 from the field, including 6-for-11 from behind the arc.  He also had a team-high four steals.  Zach Andrews contributed 11 rebounds for Team 23.

“Right now, it’s soaking in how much this hurts,” said an emotionally-drained Illiano afterwards.  “It just really stings.  All that hard work.  All those late nights in the hotel.  All those practices.  All those scrimmages.  All the game-planning and film-watching.  It stings.  When I walked into locker room and saw [the players’] faces after the defeat, I just broke down, because I know how much effort they put into this.”

Despite the loss, Illiano was reflective on the entire experience and remained confident that he and Team 23 would return in 2016.

“Yes,” he replied when asked if he and his team would return next year.  “[TBT] is a life experience.”

 

Semifinals: Tough defense leads Team 23 into $1,000,000 Championship Game

New city.  Same result.

Team 23 reached The Basketball Tournament semifinals on the strength of strong team defense and Davin White’s scoring, and Saturday afternoon was no different. White scored a game-high 24 points, and Team 23 held Ants Alumni to 32% shooting en route to an 87-76 victory.

“My team believed in me,” said White.  “They told me to be aggressive and get us going early, and everything would fall in place.”

Team 23, the West Region champions, scored the game’s first 10 points, led by 18 at one point and never trailed.

“Defense travels,” said coach Ron Katich.  “That’s what we pride ourselves on is defense.  That gets our offense going.”

Travis Gabbidon contributed 21 points for the victors, and Augustine Okosun added value on both ends of the floor, with 13 points, five rebounds, two blocks and a pair of steals. Trey McKinney Jones had 17 points to lead four players in double figures for Ants Alumni, the champions of the Midwest Region.

“We hate losing,” said Jones.  “With $1,000,00 on the line, it hurts a little more.  But, we just hate losing in general.”

Ants Alumni, a reunited version of the 2013-14 NBA D-League championship squad, closed the lead to three points but couldn’t get any closer.

“When you go down 18 [points], it’s tough to come back from,” said coach Dylan Murphy.

Asked what it would take to capture the $1,000,000 prize in Sunday’s championship game, Katich kept it simple.

“Defense,” he stated, with a smile.  “We’ll give the effort.  Whether [winning] happens or not, that’s one thing or another.  We’ll give the effort.   I guarantee that.”


Regional Championship:Team 23 knocks off LAUNFD, moves on to TBT semifinals

On Saturday morning, Team 23 traveled down Madison Street to the United Center to see the statue of Michael Jordan, “the ultimate winner” according to GM Michael Illiano.

Honoring the inspiration for the team’s name, Team 23 defeated LAUNFD, 77-56, in the West Regional Championship game on Saturday evening. Team 23 advances to The Basketball Tournament semifinals on August 1 at Rose Hill Gym in New York City.

Team 23, who led by five at the break, started off the second half with an 11-0 run, opening up a 45-29 lead. LAUNFD, playing with only five players after Ekene Ibekwe suffered an injury on Friday afternoon, cut the lead to single digits twice, but never got it closer than nine.

“We know if we can get going offensively, we know our defense is going to be there,” Team 23 forward Travis Gabbidon said. "We’re real long and we’re fast. We cover the floor well. We scramble well.”

LAUNFD didn’t help its own cause, committing 24 turnovers on the evening.

“If you’re not shooting lights out 24 turnovers is a lot. … in any game in any league in the universe,” LAUNFD forward Brandon Bowman said.

Besides Ibekwe’s injury, LAUNFD was missing forwards Ike Diogu and David Blu, as well as Bobby Brown, who won bronze with Team USA in the Pan Am Games on Saturday.

“We’re coming back with a full squad,” Bowman said.

Team 23, seeded 13th in the West Region, has defeated all four opponents by double figures.

Davin White led Team 23 with 18 points. Larry Owens recorded a double-double of 12 points and 11 boards. Pooh Jeter scored a game-high 20 points to pace LAUNFD.

 

Super 17: White shines once again as Team 23 cruises past 7outz

Team 23 consistently preaches the value of the team over individual, and its 105-64 victory over 7outz proved the adage to be true once again, as all 10 players scored in the win.

Point guard Davin White, who led his team in scoring in all three games in the West Regional, once again led the way.  The Cal State-Northridge product, who has played for 10 teams in the decade since completing his collegiate career, scored 25 points and was 7-for-13 from beyond the arc. 

Larry Owens had 21 points, and Augustine Okuson contributed 12 points and nine rebounds in the victory for Team 23, which outrebounded 7outz, 46-26.

According to Okuson, his team has no regard for individual feelings or statistics.

“Our desire to win pushes us,” said the former Seton Hall University center.  “Our guys are so unselfish.  That’s something you can’t teach.  It’s just amazing to be part of a team where everyone plays their role.”

Lou Kelly’s 18 points led the way for 7outz.

Marcus Banks, the former first-round pick of the Memphis Grizzlies who had four points in 22 minutes for 7outz, remained upbeat about his team’s chances next summer.

“We definitely have something to look forward to,” said Banks.  “I love this team.

 

Round 3: White completes strong weekend, leads Team 23 over Team BBall Breakdown

Davin White finished off a strong opening weekend by hitting 6-of-11 field goals and scoring 18 points to lead Team 23 to an 86-72 triumph over Team BBall BreakdownAlex Scales and Larry Owens chipped in with 15 points apiece for Team 23, which shot 56% in the win and advances to take on 7outz at the Super 17 in Chicago. Devin Brooks led the way in the loss for Team BBall Breakdown, scoring a game-high 21 points.

 

Round 2: White once again leads Team 23

Davin White, whose game-high 28 points led the way in the opening round, once again paced the offense for Team 23 with 23 points in a 78-62 victory over ColoradoMarcus Relphorde had a team-high 17 points in the losing effort for Colorado, which was unable to overcome a 15-point halftime deficit. Andrew Kelly was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and scored 10 points in the win for Team 23, which will face Team BBall Breakdown in a third round matchup on Sunday, July 12th at 11:00 AM PT.

 

Round 1: White’s 3-point barrage helps Team 23 past West Coast Ronin

Davin White drilled seven three-pointers and totaled a game-high 28 points to lead Team 23 to a 91-67 victory over West Coast RoninMartin Santos had 18 points to lead four players in double figures in a losing effort for West Coast Ronin. Augustine Okosun added a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Zach Andrews had nine points and 10 rebounds for the victors, who advance to play Colorado on Saturday, July 11th at 10:45 AM PST.

 

New in 2017

  • David Bell - University of Montana (2003), Dinamo Sassari (Italy)
  • Gabe Freeman - Mesa Community College (2007), Saint John Riptide (Canada)
  • Frank Gaines - Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne (2013), SC Rasta Vechta (Germany)
  • Nigel Spikes - Marshall University (2013), Fukushima (Japan)

In Their Own Words

 

Photos

Team 23 (1)

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Team 23

Zach Andrews dunk

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