And with that statement, Freeman set the tone for the upcoming match of the Fantastic Finatics against the Harlem Ambassadors on Tuesday, Feb. 24. Ostensibly a charity match to raise funds for the Domestic Abuse Shelter, this is a completely serious game.
Paul Davis, coach of the Marathon High School football team, is bringing back the jerry curl, knee high tube socks and some unbearably tight shorts in an attempt to conjure the skills he once displayed during a game of NBA Jams on his Sega Genesis. And John Ryan and Sean Sayer are bringing the skills they’ve learned coaching their little girls at the Smart Start basketball program at the local park.
The Fantastic Finatics, arguably the quietest of the Keys contenders, are being tested. Their already thin roster has been teased apart by injury, most notably the staph infection that will sideline Weekly Newspaper’s Jason Koler. (Ok, not really. He’s going to Cuba and is missing the game.) It will fall to Freeman and Andre Garvey to fill Koler’s 3 rebounds and 4 points per game. The two players are tight on and off the court.
“Overall, I think Andre Garvey is the greatest athlete in any particular sport. He dominates the wing-eating contest during Chicago Bulls games at the Hurricane and brought the NBA to its greatest peak of popularity when he set up a fake Twitter account for the late Manute Bol,” Freeman said.
“Freeman is a student of the game,” Garvey said. “He’s going to help us beat the Harlem Ambassadors with his mediocre understanding of seven of the ten basic fundamentals. He’s won at every level except peewee, high school, college and pro. He’s our guy.”
The practices leading up to the game are reportedly very intense. The team has conducted a couple of informal “shirts versus skins” contests, where the lady team members take on their male counterparts.
“After we beat them, some of the guys on the team cried,” said female three-point shooter MP Coleman, motioning to friends and teammates Daashia Cochran and Jaymie Lugo. “I’m not saying men shouldn’t cry, but these guys do it a lot. Not to mention they fake a ton of injuries when they get tired.”
Look for arresting play by Sheriff Rick Ramsay at the small forward position, who will be sporting his crewcut made famous in the cinematic masterpiece, “Hoosiers.” And look for some very intense “fireside” chats from center Moose “El Fuego” Vandervoort, capable of hitting the broadside of a barn — especially if it’s in flames. But the team will definitely rely on Adam Pierce for his three-point prowess, skills he honed at the neighborhood beer pong games.
The Fantastic Finatics are counting on some special play from Logan Howe. He is great at keeping the water bottles at a cool 66 degrees, and his screen skills are especially blinding when the lights reflect off the top of his head.
Ryan “French Fry” Freund is sure to bring his own set of surprises. Described as a combination between Dennis Rodman, for his fashion sense, and Charles Barkley, for his always-kind on-air comments, sport insiders said his play is reminiscent of a young Mike Puto.
“I love being the underdog,” said Freeman. “This way, they will never see us coming. Sure, most of them are 6’5 and taller and played professional ball, but I never let the little things discourage my confidence.”
The Harlem Ambassadors’ visit to Marathon promises a light-hearted, family friendly evening of entertainment. But it serves a very important cause — supporting the mission of the Domestic Abuse Shelter.
The shelter is supported by a combination of grants, private donations and fundraisers such as the basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 24 and the annual No Name 5k held last month. Valdez said organizing the Harlem Ambassador’s visit to Marathon has been coordinated top to bottom by board member Rachel Neller.
The Harlem Ambassadors have all played college basketball and have college degrees in fields ranging from exercise science to criminal justice. The Harlem Ambassadors show is quality family entertainment and is fun for audiences of all ages, from kids to kids-at-heart.
In Marathon, the team will be joined by about a dozen locals on the court (see opposite page). In the past, the team has entertained the crowd with the help of Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, General David Petraeus and even Key West’s Pat Croce.
Tickets are $8 in advance and are available at Captain Hook’s Marina and Marathon Cleaners. There will be a limited number of tickets available at the door for $10 each. Tickets may also be purchased at www.domesticabuseshelter.org. For more information about the event, call the shelter’s administration office at 305-743-5452 or Rachel Neller at 305-731-3177.