NEW YORK, NY - On Sunday evening after the NY Knicks knocked off the Chicago Bulls, superstar Carmelo Anthony took time off after the win to watch Team Queens do the same to Team New Jersey, 59-51, on the Madison Square Garden court to win the Take Flight NYC: Next vs. Next Championship.
The location of the championship was kept top secret from the players who were led to believe the chip was to be played at the usual location of the tournament, the exclusive Terminal 23 in Manhattan which was down the block from the Garden.
"First they thought the surprise was that they were going to see the Knicks game [before their championship game]," said the event Co-Director Bernard Bowen. "After the game, we told them that they were going to [actually] play on the court."
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Justin Wright-Foreman, who contributed 14 points to the Queens Team win, said it was an honor along with a sense of urgency to play at MSG. "We're the home team," he said. "We had to bring it back.
The high scorer for the Queens Team was Rawle Alkins with a game high 27 points. Alkins said that it wasn't the arena that got him motivated, nor was he star struck by those in attendance. He did say that he was somewhat invested in his match-up against opponent Isaiah Briscoe who led New Jersey with 18 points. "Every time I hit a three, he'd hit a three," said Alkins.
Trailing by one point at the half due to perimeter shooting from New Jersey's Bryce Aiken and with Alkins only contributing four points, the rising junior from Christ the King Regional HS in Middle Village, NY said what motivated him most was a physical altercation that occurred early in the second half. "Briscoe busted my lip. He elbowed me" said Alkins. "That added fuel to the fire so I came out with a lot of energy."
That "added fuel" ignited Alkins to score 23 of Queens' 31 second half points that would earn his team the win and autograph basketballs signed by Anthony on the spot.
It would be an exciting game, filled with star power, fireworks and most importantly, good basketball.
"This wasn't about AAU teams [and politics]," said Bowen. "This was just great for the kids.