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April 1, 2011 > Nor Cal Elite tournament at Dream Courts

Nor Cal Elite tournament at Dream Courts

By Simon Wong

Oakland Rebels, Nike-sponsored Oakland Soldiers, SF Rebels, Fairfield Ballers, Team Select, Modesto Slam N Jam and Kingdom Basket Ball Academy/Next Play have partnered to form the Nor Cal Elite Team Tournament Series.

The Next Play/Mike Smith Foundation Tournament, part of the series, was played the weekend of March 26-27 at Dream Courts, Hayward's 400,000-square foot, indoor sports facility. Ninety teams from all over California competed for first place in the boys under-8 all the way up through varsity on Dream Court's seven basketball courts.

Michael Cage, a retired NBA basketball player (L.A. Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and N.J. Nets), who was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2008, coaches both a boys U-14 and a girls U-12 travel basketball team.

"I think Dream Courts is a great facility. It is spacious and of such high quality, it deserves attention. I was taken aback by the number of courts, the layout and how many kids are here; activity, health, fitness and the young are what community is all about," stated Cage. "The Hayward community might not be my community but it is mine ... I believe communities are all one."

Both of Cage's Southern California-based clubs are called FBC Elite Basketball Club and are sponsored by the Michael Cage Foundation which supports kids through academics and sports-based programs, provides assistance to other nonprofits and scholarships.

And in the Bay Area, Dream Courts is a place that provides assistance to local kids. Oakland Soldiers Director Jules Milstead, who oversees the younger division, aged 10 to 14, of the Oakland Soldiers' Youth Basketball Program, feels the youth should take advantage of this facility.

"In many inner cities in the Bay Area, recreation centers are closing and people avoid parks because of the violence. Youngsters can spend their time actively, positively and safely at Dream Courts," said Milstead, who currently coaches at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward. "I'd encourage children and adults to see the facility for themselves and to participate in the programs and events offered here. The community should support this venue."

Milstead isn't just preaching about Dream Courts. He is walking the walk, too. His Oakland Soldiers will host the Drew Gooden Spring Extravaganza Tournament at Dream Courts April 15 to 17. Milstead mentioned nearly 60 AAU and high school teams throughout the country -- of the JV, varsity and elite varsity levels -- will partake in the tourney. The tourney is mainly for the exposure of the players.

"Last year, two of our high school players went to the University of Arizona, one to the University of Kentucky and another to the University of Oregon," said Milstead. College scouts and coaches and different agencies will attend this major event."

On March 27, Berkeley Magic's varsity team ended the first half of their final game against Benecia with a strong lead but played a weak defense during the second half, failing to make it to the championship game, losing 45-41, much to the chagrin of coach Lawrence Williams.

"After the first half our energy level dropped. We didn't deliver. We shall return to the lab, correct our formula and maximize our defense," said Williams. But that's not the priority of Berkeley Magic.

"Berkeley Magic keeps these young men out of trouble. If they didn't play basketball, they'd have nothing to do; succumbing to bad influences," Williams added. "Ten of our former players have gone to college. We might not have won, today, but enjoyed playing here and look forward to returning ... Dream Courts' CEO Teresa Banks has done everyone a great favor."

For more information:
Nor Cal Elite Team Tournament

Michael Cage Foundation

Oakland Soldiers Youth Basketball Program

Dream Courts or call (510) 786-3732

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