KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand -- Marines and support personnel with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 overpowered the speedy Korat All-stars, 88 to 85, in a friendly basketball game Feb. 6, as part of Exercise Cope Tiger.
Coordinated by the Single Marine Program, the outdoor game is a long-standing tradition between the Marines and Thais.
The All-stars are coached by the game’s referee, Kriangsak Tongflodpai, a Korat native. The Marine team, coached by Jim R. Traver, a Poughkeepsie, N.Y., native, was composed of volunteers who practiced for two weeks.
“Since we got here, we have played together a couple of times,” said Andre C. Dixon, Marine forward and native of Berlin, N.J. “The biggest thing is to see each other play. If you’re a good basketball player you’re a good basketball player. Your game doesn’t change because you’re playing with a new team.”
The game began with the Marines struggling to find rhythm on the court and move the ball from player to player as fast as the All-stars.
By the second quarter, the Marines were moving more fluidly, playing man-to-man defense and calling out their man as soon as they set foot on the court.
“They had a problem with rebounds and there were way too many uncalled fouls,” said Leonard C. Williams, Marine player and Cleveland native. “(The Thais) are organized. But for our (limited) practice, we are doing pretty good.”
The Marines led after the first half, 36 to 31, but had trouble rebounding for the better part of the game.
The attitude changed on the court after Marine guards Bradley P. Dunlap, native of Golden, Colo., and Rascheen L. Griffin, Bronx, N.Y. native, started sinking three-pointers, pushing their team ahead on the scoreboard.
On the warm outdoor court, it took much work and sweat for the Marines to take the game with a final score of 88-85.
“We had fun during the game,” said Tongflodpai. “The game was not bad, because it gave us more experience.”
After the game the players and coaches posed for pictures and shook hands before saying farewells.
“I thought the game was great,” said Traver. “It was good to get out there for a friendly competition with the Thais. The Marines played really hard. They wanted to show their best to represent the Marine Corps.”