Alaska Team with Nebraska Ties in Mr. Basketball Invitational

By: Dan Koob Email
By: Dan Koob Email

The Mr. Basketball tournament showcases talent from six Midwestern states. And this year, Alaska.

The appropriately named Alaska Ice are from Bethel, Alaska, but you won't find directions on Google on how to get there.

How about a roadway to the state's largest city, Anchorage?

Good luck. There is none.

"The flight for a lot of these boys to Anchorage is about an hour and a half, and then its about 18 hours to Minneapolis," said Head Coach Matt Murphy.

So how did a team from the Great White North hear about a basketball invite in the middle of Nebraska?

"I'm originally from Beatrice, so I know about this area and Mr. Basketball in [Minnesota], Sioux Falls and Kearney," Murphy said. "So we might as well do all three."

They've traveled around 3700 miles to get here, the equivalent of driving from New York City to Los Angeles with 900 more miles to go.

"We played in two tournaments before this one. It's been a lot of driving and flying so its tiring," said Ice guard Theodore Naneng. "Our sleep schedules are off."

"It's good for the kids because they're over-matched in a lot of these games just size wise," said Murphy. "So they're learning to play at a bigger level which will translate to their high school season so its a great opportunity for them."

Exhausted and over-matched, the team won't make excuses for any losses they'll accumulate during their tour of games. Instead, they're focused on improving.

And finding some air conditioning.

"It's hot here. You sweat just walking around," said Naneng. "It's like a hundred [degrees] here and 50 [degrees] in Bethel."

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