Friday April 22, 2016
Newark, New Jersey
Photos by Lahh Woods, Roger Larson & Google
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. An opportunity of a lifetime to experience
the remarkable, and breathtaking, Pura Vida.
Pura Vida Video
What is the Pura Vida?
[Madd, Madd Shout to the NY Sugar Daddies;
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 Warwick is
fine, but I not trying to go to Cali right now.
Who is Dionne Warwick?
The ticket agent didn't miss a
beat, and starts typing several
thousand words a second,
exactly the same pace as my
An eternity passes, when she
finally 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
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 un-tagged black bag",
and want to kiss all within arms reach. Never. Ever.
Never, Ever. Ever, Never travel by air without a
luggage tag on your luggage!! Well I hope you
learned a valuable lesson. When I casually opened
my bag to unpack the night before, all I saw were
panties, brassieres, and two piece bikinis! That
wasn't going to work for me...They weren't red,
white or blue.
Back to the hotel in no time, I hit Marlon with some
of those "pretty colones" and he slowly nods his
approval. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, and I enter
the colorful, sunlit, tiled courtyard, and shake hands
with some of my USA 55+ FIMBA teammates for
the very first time.
The currency in Costa Rica: Colones
They are a relatively tall team of aging athletes with
calm reserve, and welcoming smiles. We are all
in various stages of unapologetic white hair. With the
possible exception of Kevin Johnson aka "The Flash",
who's got full-blown gray on the top of his head.
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
aka "The Judge"
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
aka "Marathon Man"
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" PF
Shoreline Community College, WA
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
Upsala College, NY
Great mid-range shooter,
who put the "H" in Hustle,
can rebound, and defend.
Dan's Theme Song
aka "Chew Bacca" aka
"The King of Strat!"
Shoreline Community College, WA
A GM who's a solid defender,
and rebounder, always in the
right position, Teammate/Coach/
Roger's Theme Song
[Bronx/Harlem, NY] 5'9" G
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
[Orem, UT] 6'10" F/C
aka "Jay Buckets"
Let's just call him "The Shooter"
with great range, and consistency.
Good defender, and rebounder.
Jay's Theme Song
[Chicago, IL] *6'3" G
aka "Slick Rick The Ruler"
U.S. Army Team [Europe] 1972
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
and humble. Keep it Positive...Keep Your Head to the Sky...EWF
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 run the floor, feed the
shooters, take what's mines, and defend and disrupt.
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. USA55 by 13. Details at FIMBA.net
Taste of Folk Music in Uraguay
Challenges are opportunities for growth &
blessings....at the FIMBA Games...LW
The Kinesio Tape University Website
In a parallel universe, on the other side of San Jose,
the USA 50 Team is also competing for gold in the hills
of Costa Rica. This talented ensemble was assembled
from various parts of the United States, Tampa, Trenton,
Chicago, and so on. Rumor has it, that they were not
significantly challenged on this day, and ran away with
a twenty-five point lead. USA 50 is also 1-0.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Universidad de Abogado
USA vs Panama A
We arrive at the Universidad
de Abogado as the youth
division [70+] were wrapping
up their contest on the hard,
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.
Before the game, I take pause, and slowly
walk around the grounds of the Universidad
de Abogado. In the tropical setting, mountains
in the distance, I thought of the blessings of
being here, bouncing the rock, at fifty-eight
years old. Such a long, long way from playing
ball in front of the rent office with the Green,
and Doward brothers...in "The Square" ...
in Patterson Houses...in the South Bronx, NYC.
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 my friend 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 an
obviously 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 FIMBA 55?
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. Ruben Blades Son of Panama
Team Panama A at FIMBA Masters 2016
USA 55 defeats Panama B by 14 Points
Yet again USA 50 is quite successful in their efforts on
the hardwood court as they secure another large margin
of victory. USA 50 moves closer to the medal round in
a dramatic fashion, and they are now 2-0.
THE 2016 FIMBA DINNER AND DANCE IN COSTA RICA
Details at FIMBA.net
USA vs Puerto Rico B
La Musica de Puerto Rico
Today at the FIMBA
games the sun seems
to be shining brighter,
and brighter as we
are blessed with
yet another day of
sharing, all the while
experiencing...the Costa Rican Vida Pura.
Today we played a very tough Puerto Rican team.
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.
Yo soy Boriqua. Me madre dia es Puertoriqueno
de pueblo de Toa Baja. Tu sabe Toa Baha? Bueno.
My grandmother came to the United States of
America in 1917, and my mother was born in
Harlem in 1924. They made a life for themselves
in El Barrio [Spanish Harlem] and lived on 111 Street
between 5th & Lenox. They lived and survived
poverty, discrimination, poor health care, 'The
Depression", 'Prohibition","The Recession"
"The White Plague" Racism and lived and loved
through it all. My mother is still living and loving
at 90 plus. I thank God for their courage, love,
and sacrifice. Here in sunny Costa Rica, as I struggle
with my "Spanglish", I stand proudly on the brave
shoulders of my ancestors.
We played fairly well as a unit and we are slowly
gelling during this tournament. Everyone on this
USA 55+ has a great skill set, and we rarely find
ourselves out of sorts or with a loss of composure.
It's great playing with a group you've never played
with before, and for the most part, when you are
all on the same successful page. Hats off to
Roger Larson and the Seattle Connection for
selecting such a great group of ballers to
represent the USA. We have rebounders,
Defenders, Shooters and all were great ball-
We had injuries, sickness, even a couple of
players who didn't make this historic trip due
to personal matters at home. We stuck together,
covered each others tails when necessary and
played well together.
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] After the game, one of the players
asked me where I was from. I told him I'm from
the Bronx, and Harlem...He said he used to live
on University Ave....We hug, and laugh, and
he said he used to run up at Roberto Clemente
State Park. Madd shout to the ballplayers up
in the BX and Harlem.
USA 55 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 from scheduled
events, and games. 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 the emotions and words you are reading at this
moment. I'd been in Costa Rica for almost a week,
over-whelmed, and blessed. However, I hadn't wrote
a single 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
Who was Alexander Pushkin?
Translated Poems of Pushkin
...In the mornings I try to get out, run freely,
and see some of the country I'm visiting. Before the
traffic and the hustle of the scheduled day I make an
attempt to see the waking faces of the immediate
community. On just about every morning I would
run into one of the Russians in front of the hotel.
The Russian 45+ Basketball team, all militarily
fit, were stationed in the same hotel as we were.
So in my best Russian, I would smile and say "God
Morning...you play today?" "You win yesterday?
Yahh?!...NO?!" Hand signal, grunts, thumps up,
thumbs down...pantomime...How many syllables?
This was a daily exercise, until I ran into Yuri. Yuri
is one of the outstanding players on this Russian 45
team. He's a 6'6" swing forward with guard skills.
He can score, rebound and defend...He is a game
changer...on and off the court. One morning at
breakfast, after I go through my usual exercise of
trying to speak Russian. Or should I say, trying to
communicate with a Russian. He turns to me, and
asks, "I heard you won your game yesterday at the
Tennis Club, No?" I was like wow, my man's english
(sic) is clear as a break-away lay-up. So from then
on, Yuri, and Special K, and myself continued to
click and each day we would have a few moments
to talk. One morning, Special K was out front,
relaxing, puffing on tobacco and checking his
secret messages on Facebook. I walked up on
him and I asked could I interview him for my
website...NYDLBALL.com He gave me a puzzled
look, not sure what I was trying to say to him. He
kind of looked around for an assist. However,
Yuri, the translator, was nowhere in site, so we
were on our own. Special K, smiles and laughs
in Russian as he pulls up an app on his phone
that would translate the two non-romantic
languages that are distant cousins to one another.
The great communicator machine
I asked him a series of questions, that came up
on the touch screen of his phone in Russian.
After he spoke, I saw his answers on his phone
in English, and we giggled like biddy ballplayers
getting our first gold trophies together.
So after running past one another for almost a week,
we [USA 55] had a day off before we were to
compete in the medal round. Most of my teammates
relaxed with family at the hotel. I elected to join my
Russian friends at their game vs Argentina. At breakfast
they told me to be ready at 2 PM and I could ride with
them. Cool. Back in my room I made a few calls to
family, and sent some mass text messaged updating
folks on our "so far-so good" experience in Costa Rica.
Later we squeeze into the van. The back was
packed with teammates, and friends...Special K
driving, seat belt-less...cellphone in hand.
Yuri riding shotgun, and myself riding the parking
brake holding on for "dear life." We stop at a mall
...apparently we are early and have some time to
kill. We walk the mall, as a Russian unit...Mostly
window shopping, and yes, we buy several
windows. I get it, people want to see how other
people are living on the other side of the world.
And what better way to find out than walking
through a mall. I walk with several Russian
players as we pass electronics, and clothing stores.
Several store employees asked where we were from,
and in my best Spanglish I explained that we were here
for the Pan American Games. "I Americano y mi
Minutes later we are all in our places in the van, and
when we get to the arena the security guards froze
in their tracks when they see the van full of Russian
athletes and the single Africano. Yuri, our leader,
states in an authoritarian voice,"We are the Russian
team scheduled to play here, now." The guards don't
open the gate. They peer into the front of the van,
they look into the rear of the van, and then back at
me. The guards briefly speak to each other, and
glance my way again. Just keep cool, I think to
myself. Yuri must not have heard me thinking
and repeats, "We are the Russian Basketball team
scheduled to play here!" The guards look at him...
then they look at me, shrug their shoulders and lift
the barrier up so that we can enter the arena.
Special K and Yuri, talk to each other as we pass
into the parking lot, wondering what the delay was
all about...I mention to them that the guards must
not have ever seen a Black Russian before. Yuri
chuckles, and translates my remark to the teammates
in the rear of the van and everyone had a good laugh.
Russia vs Argentina
Flag of Russia Argentina's Flag
RUSSIAN MEN'S [45+] Head Coach
This Russian 45 is a very good basketball club. They have
a commanding presence. They challenge on defense, and
rebound as a unit. They like to run and attack the basket
with a fierce intensity. Even when they had broken plays, or
momentary losses of continuity on the court, the individual
talent of these players reflected their strength and versatility.
They hit their threes, they got low post buckets, and Yuri
got a breakaway dunk or two. By halftime the Russian team
was up at least 15 points, and that lead was doubled in the
second half. I don't believe they lost a game the entire week.
They were not allowed into the medal round because they
were not from a country located in the Americas. It would
have been interesting to have seen this team play against
either of the US Teams [50 or 55] or the teams that represented
Puerto Rico or Brazil. This Russian team has some very
good ballers on it. Maybe we can persuade them to visit
us state site and get some games in at Rucker Park. That
would be very cool.
Lahh Woods [USA] with Yuri Kovalev [Russia] and Guatemala
What can be said about the medal rounds? This can
be difficult to express to someone who hasn't experienced
it. For me, it's a combination of excitement, and nervousness.
However, when you've spent countless hours in preparation
the excitement is enhanced, and the nervousness is minimized.
There is a place of comfort and confidence that kicks in
once the game finally gets started. It's the concern, and sometimes
pain in your opponents eyes, when they realize that, on this
day, they are not properly prepared for competition.
This is that massive final exam...at the end of the semester...of
your senior year...and only you know in your heart whether
graduation is in jeopardy. However, basketball is not an
individual event. It is a team sport. At what point do you trust
your teammates with the responsibility of your graduation?
The reality is, "No one graduates alone, work together,
and learn to trust your teammates!"
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 ********************************************
2016 Gold Medal Celebration at FIMBA
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
Facing Brazil in the 2016 FIMBA Final was one of the biggest
games of my life. I didn't sleep well the night before. I hung
out with my Russian partners well into the evening...It's not
like we were out on the town, we were in my living room
trading jerseys, and youtube videos that bridged the verbal
communications gap. They didn't speak much English, and
I didn't speak any Russian. The only Russian that Roger and
I had learned from our new friends were a few Russian curse
words that are normally said when taking group photos.
The team was up early, and breakfast was once again world
class. I ate solo...next to the pool...right next to the palm trees...
right along the side of the waterfall. Towards the end of my
prayers, I also thanked Mom and Dad who have given me
so much in life. I stare into the sun bouncing off the tranquil waters, and think of how much they, and my other family
members, would really enjoy this Pan-American experience.
I close my eyes, and I can hear my wife, and grandchildren,
busy laughing and moving about poolside. Can we get a do
From the time we walked into the arena, all eyes were
focused in our direction. From the bleachers we cheered
and screamed for Team USA 50 in their championship
victory over a very talented club representing, me jentes,
[my people] Puerto Rico. At times, I was torn like seeing
two family members battle "toe to toe". By half-time
I resolved my emotions by saying to myself, "May the
best team win", and something corny like, "I just want to
see a good game."
At the trainer's table, helpful associates did their jobs with
welcome smiles and professionalism. I was reminded of
a time, during my three year NCAA experience at
The City College of New York in the seventies. A
wonderful world of managers, trainers, radio...televised games...administrators, flights, fans, adoring classmates,
team buses, smiling women, and the signing of autographs.
It all came back to me in a heartbeat. Hard to put
into words. It can all be quite intoxicating, and you can
be blinded in your own foggy reality. This was a second
chance at it. A chance to be humble, respectful, and
to truly enjoy the blessings of the good vibration
around me...And I am thankful to God.
When I came into the game five minutes in, we were
already up six or seven points. I was amped and ready to
make an immediate impact on the game. I was on the floor
for what seemed no time at all, making things difficult for
their ball-handlers...The Brazilian front line hovered around
six-foot ten and were where they got most of their
offensive production. "My mans and them" Ron Knect
had played with the Croatian team that served Brazil with
their only loss of the week. Ron had told me before the
game that the US guards were superior to Brazil and that
he believed that we would get that 'W".
I get into the game, denying the post-ups, pressuring the
ball in the back-court, hanging out in the passing lanes...
Feeding our numerous shooters...I'm feeling pretty good,
when on defense my Brazilian opponent elected to smack
me across my mouth. WTF? I react, and push him across
his chest. WHISTLES!! A FLURY OF ESPANOL!!
As my opponent raises his palms to the heavens with
that innocent, "What did I do?" look on his face.
Teammates get in between us...A double tech is called.
When play resumes, in my best "Spanglish", I express
my best apology for having pressed my big mouth
against the firm palm of his hand. NOT EXACTLY
what was said to him. However, I believe he got the
My teammates make my limiting leg injury very
manageable. Ricci Greenwood, the great guard from
Chicago, stayed within eye-site when I brought the
ball up. My calf injury had me moving at about 65%.
I can play basic D, run the floor well, however,
shooting the ball, or pushing back in the paint on
defense were extremely difficult.
Just the way Player/Coach/Manager/Hoop Guru
Roger Larson was correct when he predicted,
"Build chemistry during our four upcoming games
in Costa Rica, and in the medal round we should
find our stride, and win this darn thing!"
Brazil had a physical presence, like many of the
other teams at the Pan American Games. Physical
play can take alot out of the aging legs and lungs
of Master's competitors. It is hard to sustain that
type of play for forty minutes...and fatigue, once
again, became a factor.
The keys to the U.S. victory was solid team defense,
rebounding in bunches, and phenomenal perimeter
shooting. A steady collective effort by Team USA
55+ created the separation that was needed to secure
the 2016 Pan American Games Championship.
My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to my USA 55+
teammates. My teammates, and their families,
made my Pan-American experience one that I will
treasure for the rest of my years. The conversations,
kindness, acts of generosity were the highlights of
my dream experience in Costa Rica.
After the game, the Brazilian guard who I had
the altercation with on the court came over to me
as expressed his sorrow for smacking me in the
mouth. "I'm sorry for what I did to you earlier",
he confesses in clear, and polished English.
I keep it moving and say, "All right", shake his
hand, and move quickly to line-up for photos,
and the heartfelt celebration.
The people of Costa Rica, and other participating
countries were congratulatory, gracious...I took
many photos, got many warm hugs, but I didn't
sign any autographs...And I was cool with that.
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
Much love and blessings to all the family and friends from
New York to San Jose for the love and prayers during
this experience. Special thanks to the families who traveled
with the team and added a real sense of community during
this Pura Vida happening in Costa Rica. Much love and
blessings to my wife and the extended Woods family through-
out the world for their love and support.
Pas y Bendiciones...Lahh