Friday April 22, 2016
Newark, New Jersey
Do you know the way to San Jose?
Dionne Wawick is fly...video
Life is great. The renovated airport stretches
and yawns with the early morning sun, as other people
step with purpose, travel anxiety, and large baggage.
I patiently stand at the counter of American Airlines,
and hand over my flight info, and passport, all the
while holding hands with Coltrane dancing in my ears.
A Love Supreme Others are in somewhat of a rush, fumbling
with printed itineraries, and carry on luggage. While I,
the experienced world traveler, max and relax, stepping to
a different, seamless rhythm.
I'm on my way the 2016 FIMBA Maxi-
Basketball Pan-American Games in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Did you get that? San Jose, Costa Rica. FIMBA website
The week long, festive, extravaganza host over 150 male
and female basketball teams from all over the world.
After participating in numerous fifty & over Masters
regional competitions for the past five years, with my
New York City Sugar Daddy team, I was fortunate to
get the long distance call from Seattle to play on the
USA Men's Basketball Team in the over age fifty-
five division. [Madd, Madd Shout to Tony Greene,
Whimp Ransom, Corky Ortiz, Johnny Pugh, John
Marques, Lorenzo Holloman, and Warren Storey
to name a few of our regulars]
2016 FIMBA Pan American Games Opening Ceremony
"Experience of a Lifetime...Incredible"
so good at the airline counter that I could almost fly to
Costa Rica without the need of an aircraft. I glance back
at the extremely long line that has formed with weary,
predawn travelers, and I wonder how many of them
will be going to the FIMBA games in San Jose? Nobody
behind me is taller than 6'1". The pleasant, middle aged
reservation agent hands me back my passport and boarding
pass and she says,"OK Mr. Woods, you're all set to go...Just
place you're luggage up here on the scale, and you'll be on
your way to San Jose, California." That is the moment
when I stopped holding hands with Coltrane...and the
music stopped dancing in my ears.
So somehow, someway, my prepaid, round trip, economy
class, Travelosity ticket to San Jose, Costa Rica was
booked, and paid for, and printed as a round trip, economy
class passage to San Jose, California! Dionne Warrick is
fine, but I not trying to go to Cali right now. The ticket
agent didn't miss a beat, and starts typing a thousand
words a second, exactly the same pace as my heart.
An eternity passes, and she says she has a flight to
Dallas, and a connecting flight to San Jose....Costa
Rica for only $1,545.00 ...I calmly and respectfully
say, "That's not gonna happen. Please keep typing."
She never looks up, and if she did look up I
wouldn't have know it, because my head was
buried in my hands. She types for another eternity
and finds me a significantly better opportunity,
we press the plastic and I'm out.
Unificacion en Las Americas Video
The FIMBA USA members present an
Award of Appreciation to "El Presidente"
Dr. Ruben Rodriguez Lamas the founder of
FIMBA MaxiBasketball FIMBA Maxi Website
The Scouting Report
Aportel La Sabana Hotel
San Jose, Costa Rica
...I am up early and head down to breakfast area...
at pool-side...next to the waterfall...right next to the
palm trees... "Ola, come estas?" I respond
confidently, "Pas y Bendiciones." "My man's and
them" Marlon has got the fire red taxi warmed up
and ready to take me back to the Juan Santamaria
International Airport in Alajuela, to get the rest of
my luggage. [I'll tell you about that dramatic episode
later.] We wheel down Highway One and before
you could say "arroz con polio" we were at the
airport. Bueno...I collect "my untagged black bag",
and want to kiss all within arms reach.
Back to the hotel in no time, I hit Marlon with some
0f those "pretty colones" and he nods his approval.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED and I enter the
tiled courtyard and meet some of my teammates
for the first time.
The currency in Costa Rica: Colones
And now, drum-roll...Por favor...Damas y Caballeros,
Hermanos y Hermanas...Ahora es un grande fiesta de
baloncestos de la Pan-Americanas...FIMBA Maxi esta
muy bueno por las Americas y el todo mundo...Bueno
...peta te...Permiso, allow me at this time to introduce
the band de Los Estados Unidos.
TEAM USA 55+ at FIMBA Pan American Games, Costa Rica
[Miami, FL] 6' 7" PF
University of New Orleans 
A consistent scoring presence
from the baseline to the 3-ball.
Period. Julio's Theme Song
[Gilbert, AZ] 6'4" G/F,
Perpetual movement, great
defender, Olympic speed,
good scorer, with a gift
for finding the open creases
in a defense.
Kevin's Theme Song
[Ballard, WA] 6'6" F,
Low post scorer, and solid
defender, a strong rebounding
machine with great hops,
who can shoot the mid-range,
Neil's Theme Song
[San Diego, CA]
6'5" F, Great mid-range
shooter, who can hustle,
rebound, and defend.
Dan's Theme Song
aka Chew Bacca aka
The King of Strat!
GM who's a solid defender,
and rebounder, always in the
right position, Teammate/Coach/
Roger's Theme Song
aka "The Dreamer"
City College of New York-1975
Good defender, high energy,
ball handler, who also happens
to be the best writer I know.
Lahh's Theme Song
aka "Jay Buckets"
Let's just call him "The Shooter"
with great range, and consistency.
Good defender, and rebounder.
Jay's Theme Song
aka "Slick Rick"
Superb floor general who can score,
pass, and defend, a true leader who
is efficient in his movement & words.
*I list him as 6'3" because he always
plays bigger than he is.
Ricci's Theme Song
This has been a quite amazing experience for me. I
have played in many games, and tournaments in my
lifetime. I have also been blessed to have traveled,
a bit, and have organized countless cultural events,
and tournaments for over 30 years. This past week
seems to be a culmination of all that I have witnessed,
all that I have received, and produced. I am thankful
The shear magnitude of over 150 teams from all
over the world. Primarily, from the Americas,
north, south and central, and don't forget the
participating countries from the Caribbean. But
there are also basketball teams here from Croatia,
and Russia. They are all age 35 and older...and
THEY ARE BALLERS! Regardless of their skill-
set or aptitude of the game, teams are balling from
first whistle till the last horn. Diving. Shooting.
Pushing. Pulling. Digging in deep within themselves,
and linking arms in a sincere effort to work with
their teammates for just about every tick of the clock,
irregardless of the numbers on the score-board.
Teams are playing with confidence, pride and
dignity, not only for their countries, but also
for each other. This has been a real eye-opener
for me. Here I am thousands of miles away
from what I call home...almost a lifetime
away from the cold, hard concrete, and PS 18
Night Center...Light years away from the
battles in front of the rent office in Patterson
Square Garden in the South Bronx. I am here
in San Jose, Costa Rica at the feet of ancient
volcanoes, eating fresh cut pineapples, guavas,
and mangos, by the pool...next to the waterfall
...waiting for the van that will take Team USA
55+ to our first game. Nobody. I should say,
"No one, wake me up."
USA vs Uraguay
There is a buzz of the crowd as we walk into the arena. All eyes are fixed in our direction, as our tall team steps
confidently and drop our bags in the east end of the building. All seasoned vets. Collectively we've played thousands or millions of games. However, for me, this one was different. This one was almost dream like...because every comment, every bounce of the ball, every stare, every nervous or welcoming smile, from complete strangers confirmed for me a number of things. First and
foremost it confirmed our humanity. How we are all
connected on this earth, in spirit and in truth. If you come
in peace, you will receive peace. If you come as an invading
force with no respect, you receive no respect in return.
Bueno...Now with all that said, once the ball goes up in the
air, with all due respect, I'm trying to bust your *ss! And I'm
sure, in the mind of my opponent, he has identical intentions
por a me. In my ear, on my head-phones I have MOS DEF [Mathematics] on 9. Mathematics...Check it Out
We shook their hands and I made an effort to speak in
espanol...Que Pasa Hemano?...Primo, como estas?....Tu
familia es tambien? Bueno. After a good stretch, I get
the nod to start in the back-court with Ricci Greenwood
[Chicago] I see he's got that "assassins" look in his eyes
and I laugh to myself knowing that this is going to be fun
...I'm feeling great, confident, and calm. I've been training
injury free for months, ready for this great moment to
arrive. It didn't take long for me to realize that I was
surrounded by a team of BIGS, who don't mind banging
and can shoot very well. This USA 55/60 team is a
high performance, formula one vehicle...and I'm the
wheels. All I have to do is feed the shooters, take
what's mines, and defend and disrupt. Good Times!
This Uraguay team is very strong and right out the
gate they let us, and the referees, know that this was
going to be a physical experience. They push, we push
back. We go up a few points. We are running well, and
playing solid D. We go up a few more points, and the
physical play is countered with experience, and offense
from Julio Davila [Miami] and Kevin Johnson [Arizona].
I feel good, a few deflections, a few assist, and my
man on D is having to work very hard to get what he
gets. He was a short, stocky, baller, must have been
a hand full to deal with thirty plus years ago. Good
team. It seemed like five minutes into one of the
biggest games of my life, I double down on the block
and get a steal off one of their big men. The ball is
headed out of bounds on the baseline and as I run
to grab it...I feel an incredible shot of pain in my
left lower calf. Don't quite remember if I was able
to save the ball or what? I hobble down court
realizing, to my horror, that this was serious. I
signal to the bench for a sub...as I skip directly
over to the trainer for assistance. Laying on
the training table, speaking in my best Spanglish
I direct the trainer and get taped up. I center
myself and begin to pray to the Creator for two
things.  The recognition of a positive lesson
amidst all the pain of this situation  Allowing
me the very best effort in this FIMBA experience
injured or not.
I can run, and move at about 55%...I cannot
elevate or push off, beginning a new and
challenging experience here at the FIMBA Pan
American Games. I return to the bench as
Roger Larson [Seattle] and Neil Nelson [Ballard]
inquire about my playing status. I assure them
that yes there is pain, and I'm going to give it my
best. Sargeant Larson barks out my marching
orders, "Just stay in front of your man! Play
from top of the key, to the top of the key alright?!
None of that diving around the floor stuff alright?!
...None of that acrobatic stuff! Okay...Just keep
it basic!" I focus and his words as I see Team
Uraguay with a bounce in their steps with the
game relatively close. Minutes later I'm back
on the court...Our lead goes from seven to
twelve points, and the crowd is hoping to see
something dramatic. Neil Nelson [WA]
and Dan Valhalla [San Diego] aka 'The Bruise
Brothers" turn up the volume on both sides
of the boards, as they lock down the low post.
Jay Cheesman [Utah] knocks down a few
buckets as Slick Ricci Greenwod [Chicago]
orchestrates defensive and offensive scenarios
that put us in the right place at the right time.
All I have to do is stay in my lane, complete
my part of the play, and make good decisions
in the moment. And trust that everyone
around me will take care of the rest. And
they did. USA by 13. Details at FIMBA.net
Challenges are opportunities for growth &
blessings....at the FIMBA Games...LW
San Jose, Costa Rica
Universidad de Abogado
USA vs Panama A
We arrive at the Universidad as the youth division [70+]
were wrapping up their contest on the tiled floor. The
two teams were locked in spirited battle and if I'm
not mistaken, Argentina had a small lead on Chile.
Just like all the other division, teams play with pride
and strength from the first whistle to the last buzz
of the score-clock.
After I'm given a massage, and the proper taping in
the trainers area, I walk into the playing area. I read
the US 55+ Team, as they casually lean back, and chat
politely on the cool concrete bleachers. Any opponent
who does not know them, could easily underestimate
the collective ability of these battle seasoned vets.
This tournament is my first time playing with this US 55
Unit. Over the past three or four years I have played
against several of these players in various masters
tournaments around the country. The only player
I had previously played with was Slick Ricci
Greenwood. We played together in Jacksonville
Masters 2016 for Team Burlington. [LCI] from
Toronto, coached by Doug "Puffy" Combs.
In Jacksonville our team got "snowed out" in
Charlotte, and had many roster no shows as a result
of the winter elements. We didn't fare particularly
well. Frankly, we got our tail feathers kicked by
Warren Prehmus, and the good old Georgia Boys.
The sportsmanship, and character displayed by
the team representing Panama was on an incredible
level. They smiled, and welcomed my handshakes,
and informal "Spanglish" introductions of myself to
them. "Que pasa hemano?" [What's happening bro?]
"Tu eres tambien? [You good?] Tranquillo Primo.
[Take it easy cousin] "Bueno. Me jente!" [Good. My
People] Sometimes they would fire back responses
that I could not catch in spanish, where I would smile
and raise my hands and say "Yo no comprende bro!
Yo obla poqito espaniol." It was great, at the moment,
to remove the traditional invading army vibe that many
ballplayers bring into the contest. We are not enemy
combatants, out for the scalps of our balding opponents
on the hardwood. So let's play the game of basketball!
Even as a child, back in my Biddy and Midget ball
days, there's always one. By the time I was traveling a
little bit around the city playing pick-up or organized
ball there was always one. The one I am referring to is
the player who always wants to be "extra" physical,
before the game...during the game....after the game.
Why is this? Please tell me. Why is there always
one guy who just has to go there? How did he make
the team? I never did like all of that Detroit Bad Boys'
bravado, or the Boston Celtic tough guy goons coming
off their bar-stools with five hard fouls to give to a
more talented player.
Sometimes you can spot his chubby behind on the
layup line, with an egg sandwich gently balanced
in the palm of his hand. Or you might bust him
eating some other sweet snack as his teammates
are stretching or warming up for the game...and
he's always thirsty, "Agua, Agua!" and he's
always asking players do they have gum. Now
he doesn't have to be one of the heavier players
on the team. Oh no...he can be as skinny as me,
but his mission is always the same. Make the
other team feel the pain. Well like I said, just
about every team has one, and so does Panama B.
Now that I'm thinking about it, who fits that
physical first style of play on USA 55? Hmmm??
Panama had a physical presence, like many of the
other masters teams. They have skilled players who
complemented one another in a unique way. They
were specialist. They had ball handlers who could
get the ball to the shooters, and they hung with us
right up until half-time. Team USA 55+ regrouped
and began to separate ourselves from them by stepping
up the defensive effort and hitting a series of mid to
long range jump shots. I believe that Panama may
have erred in their rotation at one point, where they
had no ball handlers or scorers on the floor at the
same time. We exploited the situation on the floor
and secure a fourteen point win.
Team Panama A at FIMBA Masters 2016
USA 55 defeats Panama B by 14 Points
THE 2016 FIMBA DINNER AND DANCE IN COSTA RICA
Details at FIMBA.net
USA vs Puerto Rico B
Today at the FIMBA games the sun seems to shining
brighter and brighter as we are blessed with another day
of sharing and experiencing the Vida Pura. Today we
played a very tough Puerto Rican team...Before the
game, I slowly walked around the grounds of the
Universidad de Abogado, in the tropical setting, and
thought of the blessings of being here at fifty-eight
years old. Such a long, long way from playing ball in
front of the rent office with the Green brothers, in
"The Square" in Patterson Houses in the South
Every-one on this Puerto Rican team knew all of
the people I grew up with, played with, and against
from NY [The Bronx & El Barrio/Harlem] who
had stellar careers in the Superior Balocestos
League in Puerto Rico. Players like "my mans
and them"...Chicky Burgos, Carmelo Rosa, Billy
Santos, Caesar [RIP], me Hermano...Corky Ortiz,
George Torres [We called him "Pretty Boy"...And
of course, my neighbor on the first floor of building
281 E. 143 Street...Angel "Machito" Cruz.
We played fairly well as a unit and we are slowly
gelling during this tournament. We never had a
commanding lead due to the great effort of the
Puerto Rican ballers. They never gave up and
played with "Mas Fuerte!" [Very Strong]
USA wins by about 10 or 12 points.
Details at Fimba.net
Country Tour of Coffee Plantation
Poas National Volcano Park Website
La Paz Waterfalls & Nature Preserve Website
Alajuela, Costa Rica
Aportel La Sabana Hotel
San Jose, Costa Rica
We had a day off for scheduled events, and many teammates
relaxed about the Aportel Sabana Sud Hotel at pool-side or
in their rooms. Some casually walked the neighborhood and
shopped for groceries and gifts. I bunkered down in my
Roger-less room, [head-phones booming] Toumani Diabate Kora Master
and finally began writing some of these words you are
reading now. I'd been there for almost a week, over-
whelmed, and blessed. However, I hadn't wrote a syllable.
But, before all of that, and right after another incredible,
fresh, sunlit breakfast...I was off to the wooded area of
the park, across the Avenue of the Americas, to play
my alto saxophone with the incredible audience of
sun beams, tiny brown squirrels, gold and green bees,
and an assortment of black birds with hats on.
The Medal Round One
USA vs Panama B
DJ Rockin Rob
[Ladies] Peru vs Guatemala
Flag of Guatemala Flag of Peru
Details at FIMBA.net
Moskow Never Sleeps
The Black Russian
Russia vs Argentina
Flag of Russia Argentina's Flag
RUSSIAN MEN'S [45+] Head Coach
Lahh Woods [USA] with Yuri Kovalev [Russia] and Guatemala
PUERTO RICO vs MEXICO
PUERTO RICAN DAY [NYC]
National Flag of Mexico
The Ladies of Team Mexico
Details at FIMBA.net
The Medal Round Two
USA Men's 55+ vs Equador
This FIMBA 2016 final four game was a bit of a
challenge for the US 55+ team. No excuses, we had a
week of injuries and sickness, and I'm sure other teams
did also. With that said, we were challenged by the
offensive and defensive heart showcased by this tough
Equadorian team. This was an emotional week for
this courageous team of ballers from Equador. As a
result of the devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake
that took place two weeks ago, many of these athletes
lost loved ones, friends and fellow citizens in the
Central American nation.
Massive 7.8 Magnatude Earthquake 2016
How could they persevere, deal with all of that loss,
and continue to participate in an event like? I know
their hearts are worn, and their minds were without
a doubt at home. My prayers, my heart, and
my condolences to the loving, courageous, and proud
people of Equador. They were true professionals
during these FIMBA Games in every sense of the
word, from the coaching staff on down to the players.
In regards to the game, they spread the floor on
offense and scored three pointers and baskets to keep
pace with the US Team 55. They played physical, and
made some great shots from beyond the arch and in
the paint. Equador came with a large crowd to support
them. However, now that I think about it, they had the
support and sympathy of many who had attended the
contest. How could you not root for them, after all
they've been through? They never gave up and the
US Team secured the win by six points and qualified
for the Gold Medal Match-Up with Brazil. Pas
USA defeats Equador to advance to the 2016 FIMBA
Pan American Games Age 55+ Championship Game
Brazil Men's 55+ defeats Uraguay A ********************************************
Men's 50+ Divison
Puerto Rico vs USA
USA Men's 50 secure the 2016 FIMBA Championship defeating Team Puerto Rico
Men's 55 + Division
Brasil vs USA
The United States Men's Age 55+ were crowned Champions of
the 2016 Pan American Games by defeating Brazil 64-40.
Details at FIMBA.net
TO BE UPDATED!!! IN 55 MINUTES....BENDICIONES