On Saturday morning, we were on hand in Norfolk, Virginia for the latest qualifier in the massive Red Bull King of the Rock tournament. We had already witnessed some serious talent in “major” cities like NYC, Philly, Boston, and Washington, D.C. (the winners of each market all have a legit shot at taking the whole thing on Alcatraz), so we didn’t know what to expect in Norfolk. What we found was that Virginia may have brought the most overall talent of any qualifier anywhere to the courts at Lafayette Park on Saturday morning. These guys were killers, battling to the very end in stifling heat and humidity, nobody going out without putting up a savage fight to the finish.
Seven of the Elite 8 of the 64-player field are all pro players overseas, with the 8th guy, Ryan “Gunz” Braxton a local playground legend. The round was full of former NCAA stars like Georgia‘s Terrance Woodbury, VCU‘s Michael Anderson, and Norfolk State‘s Dante Drummer.
6-7 Virginia Beach native Michael Anderson, who put in time last season in the D-league with the Dakota Wizards, made short work of his opponents until the Elite 8 and the all-Virginia Final Four (NYC, Philly, D.C., Baltimore, and North Carolina were all represented in the field), where his mettle was truly tested. His Final Four matchup with Ryan Braxton was arguably the most entertaining game of the entire tour, with both guys trading long threes and reckless runs at the rim until the final buzzer. Anderson was down by one with a few seconds to go when he tracked down a loose ball by the hash mark. He turned, saw that he had a lane and raced to the rim to throw it down. Braxton flew in from the other side and met the taller Anderson at the top of his jump. The two collided and Anderson was just barely able to guide the ball into the hoop as time expired just a few seconds later.
In the final game, Anderson met up with tough, 6-5 Norfolk native Dalane Finley (Texas Wesleyan), who out-scrapped more high profile opponents like Terrance Woodbury to get himself into the last match of the day. Once again, Anderson found himself in a shootout as he and Finely traded long three after long three. In the end, Anderson’s height and shooting was just a little too much for Finley, who looked to be running on fumes for the final two minutes of the game.
Both Anderson and Finley will be making their way to Alcatraz at the end of September to compete on The Rock, and after what we saw on Saturday, both have to be considered among the favorites to win the whole thing.