MANCHESTER, NH – Despite oppressive humidity and ominous forecasts—in a summer seemingly punctuated by rain—the Downtown City Basketball Jam went off without a hitch at Pulaski Park on Saturday, July 17.
Rob Azevedo of Granite State of Mind and Carl Doucet of the Manchester Ballers’ Association (MBA) organized the free event with all the proceeds going to Families in Transition, a non-profit dedicated to helping people in the city struggling with housing accommodations.
Manchester’s mayor Joyce Craig was on-hand to kick off the tournament, tossing a ceremonial jump ball in center court at noon. Then eight teams fiercely competed in games comprised of two 20-minute halves in the single-elimination tournament throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
“The level of play on the court stood out to me,” said Azevedo. “I felt like the games were competitive and really well-played.”
In the end, Infamous—a team captained by JD “The Wizard” Imperial—defeated Rob Tisbert’s team 53-44 for the title.
“There was a lot of skill on Imperial’s team,” said Doucet, adding that five of their players compete for the New Hampshire Rockets, a semi-professional club that operates out of the MBA.
The champions’ members were Imperial, Yordy Taverez, Johnny Dombrowski, RJ O’Brien, Rod Francona, Dylan Derosier, Matt Croteau, Temi O’Bailey and Jose Dejesus.
Doucet said he was pleased by the level of competition yet the event was not solely about the games, rather the Manchester community.
“There was very good support,” he said. “The community and the players stepped up to make a difference. The games were competitive, but everyone realized the bigger purpose was to hoop for a good cause.”
Altogether, the Downtown Queen City Basketball Jam netted [pun intended] close to $4,000 for Families in Transition. The sponsors included Bangor Saving Bank, Cross Insurance, The Wicks Insurance Group, Intown Manchester, APC, The Hop Knot, Get It Gone, The Kiwanis Club, Amerihealth, Harbor One Mortgage, Amerihealth, The Ward Law Group, Farm and Flower, Allstate Insurance, Hint, Drew Wood, Nathan Dempsey at New York Life, Hailey Printing and Graphics and the SEE Science Center.
Both Azevedo and Doucet said they envision the tournament becoming an annual event, growing in the years to come and perhaps including multiple courts throughout the city.
The basketball tournament, however, far from the only event in a day that provided a veritable cultural experience.
In the afternoon, local musician Grant Lampton strummed his guitar and hosted an open mic before giving way to DJ Reklss in the evening. Playa Bowls of Manchester and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream also provided refreshments.
On the whole, Azevedo said he was pleased to see the planning done with Doucet come to fruition.
“It really did go just perfect,” he said. “It was as we had envisioned it and then some. I heard, more than a few times, people passing by and saying, ‘We need more of this in the city. This is awesome.’ And you know what? I agree.”