If winter is basketball season for the masses, then spring is basketball season for the hardcore fanatics. It is springtime in which the AAU basketball weekend tournaments are in full swing. The AAU basketball community flocks to regional gyms like Trekies to a Star Trek convention. On a given weekend, teams will usually play four to six games in a tournament. Most tournaments will attract teams from up to a two or three hour commuting distance and usually always have more than 100 teams participating. This gym rat fraternity may not sport great outdoor tans, but they tend to sport an advanced skill set and knowledge of the game that they love.
The Phoenix Basketball U-12 team is a local AAU team, with a roster containing some of the best 6th and 7th graders from Norwalk, Darien, Westport, New Canaan and Wilton. This weekend they played in a $5 million, three court gym facility in Brewster, N.Y. that was built for the sole purpose of hosting AAU tournaments and travel team leagues. The Phoenix team finished second in the tournament, losing only one game to a Queens, NY team.
The Phoenix is led by two Westport sixth graders, Mack Muller and Thomas Tamiolakis. On a squad that prides itself on aggressive and relentless defense, the Westport duo are two of the best. Both players have excellent length and athleticism. Accordingly, their teammates are trained to herd the opponents ball handlers into the laps of Muller and Tamiolakis for the close-out treatment.
At the other end of the floor, both contribute in a variety of ways, depending the opponents tactics. In a win over the host team, NorEast Lightning, Tamiolakis stepped back from a sagging zone defense, a drained a pair of three pointers. Against the East Coast Hawks, Muller poured in a dozen points in a 66-39 win.
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