When the world calls on America’s service members they call on athletes like those competing in the Men’s Armed Forces Basketball Championship which kicks off a round-robin tournament Nov. 1 to Nov. 7, 2016 in the Barber Physical Activity Center located at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia.

Service members from the Marine Corps, Navy, Army and Air Force basketball teams will compete.   U.S. Marine Corps Coach MGySgt Elonzo Higginson said, “It will be a round robin-tournament that will start on Tuesday, Nov. 1, where every team plays each other twice. The top two teams will play in the championship games on Monday, Nov. 7.”  The Marine Corps players represent Marine Corps installations from all over the world - Okinawa, Camp Pendleton, Cherry Point, Camp Lejeune, New River, Albany and Henderson Hall.   

This event builds camaraderie across all the military branches of service and provides an outlet for individual members to play a sport they are passionate about.  “Personally, I just love playing,” said Sgt. Montonio Kenan from Marine Corps Base Okinawa, Japan.

Bringing the players together based on their previous basketball experience was the first step to identifying the All-Marine Basketball team.  “It was my job to work with the players and help them turn weaknesses into strengths,” said Coach Higginson. “Then we refined the players with repetition during practice twice a day, three hours in morning and four hours in the afternoon.” 

According to Coach Higginson, once the tournament starts, having practiced plays and sets will help diminish the chaos on the court. “In order to play the game and execute at the highest level, my staff and I are already thinking about the first play and what sets we want to run” said Higginson. 

Critical communication under stressful circumstances is second nature to these Marines who make decisions in combat under pressure.  “Talking on the court and being aware of certain situations like how much time we have on the shot clock to get a shot off is important for a win,” said Cpl Fernie Morelos from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The Armed Forces Sports (AFS) program was officially established in 1948 as the Inter-service Sports Council (ISSC).  The ISSC was directly involved in the creation of the policy and procedures that paved the way for Armed Forces personnel to have the opportunity to train and compete for national, Olympic, and international competitions.  The United States Armed Forces is a member of the International Military Sports Council, which is also known as the Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM).  CISM is the second largest multi-sport discipline organization after the International Olympic Committee.

Marine Corps Sports Programs are designed to enhance the fitness and resilience of Marines and their families and functions to support alternative Physical Training (PT) options, military to military engagement, and the development of unit cohesion.  Sports Programs are directly related to combat readiness and serve as the main mechanism through which a variety of programs, services and activities are provided to Marines and their families.  Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Programs are supported by Department of Defense to maintain individual, family, and mission readiness during peacetime and in time of declared war and other contingencies through appropriate representation at CISM activities and in civilian national and international amateur sports competitions.

Only Active Duty Marines are eligible to participate in Armed Forces Championships on behalf of the Marine Corps.  To learn more about Marine Corps Sports Programs, click here.