“It’s not like a walk in the park. It’s like a walk through hell.”
These words perfectly describe the most competitive new one on one basketball tournament, FIGHTBALL. This is in-your-face, raw streetball, full of high octane action from your favorite players worldwide. Consisting of the top 16 hoopers selected from every corner of the globe, FIGHTBALL brings out competitors from cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington D.C. and countries like Serbia and Brazil, all to the dark black wooden courts at Stage 37 in midtown Manhattan.
The objective is simple: win by any means necessary. Consisting of two hoops on a 40 feet court, each player is split up into an eight player, single elimination bracket. Games last for eight minutes with each player receiving a two minute break between halves. An eight-second shot clock is in place, dunks are considered three points, shots made by the FIGHTBALL white line count for two points and a regular basket counts for one point. Split into three different nights of events, the 16 hoop phenoms are first grouped into two different sessions for a chance to ultimately compete in the third for the grand prize of $100,000. The first two sessions (held on Thursday and Friday evening this past week) were split into eight players going up against each other to decide who will firs win $10,000 and then a definite spot in the championship pool session for the grand prize.
During Thursday’s kick-off session, Billy Baptist, Eric Williams, Dusan Bulut, Malik Boothe, JJ Moore, Cliff Dixon, Tyrone Hill and Marvin Roberts rounded out the eight ballers. After the dust cleared from each round, Brooklyn-born Roberts reigned supreme as the $10K winner. The former Florida International University star used nothing but elusive shake and bake moves to take down competition that stood in front of him, such as Philly’s bulldog Hill, former Rutgers great Moore and Long Beach’s own Williams to solidify his spot for the final $100K session. A$AP Ferg was also the special musical guest for the night, hitting the stage to perform hits such as “Work” and “New Level.”
We caught up with Bed Stuy bred hoopster and winner on the night, Marvin Roberts:
Friday evening’s second session was another big one, as a packed crowd witnessed some of the best and most unbelievable streetball moments seen in this city in a long time. New York was represented heavy by Harlem’s Steven Ruple Jr and Rich Ross, Brooklyn’s Tymel Murphy, Queens representative William McFarland and FIGHTBALL’s defending champion, the Bronx’s Mike Tuitt. Pooled with them were Brazilian big man Leandro De Lima, Ronnie Battle and Andrew Washington.
The first match-up had major tension, due to a build-up of days of trash talk between Ruple Jr and Washington. Pushing and shoving each other, things got so intense fans kept delaying the action on the court by swarming it as the two warriors lived out the definition of FIGHTBALL play by play. Washington ultimately prevailed as the winner, advancing to the next round.
Fans then became witness to the most surprising moments in one on one competition history. De Lima, hailing from Brazil’s notorious favelas, capped off an amazing second half comeback by blocking a long range shot attempt into his own hoop, upsetting and defeating defending champ Tuitt and advancing to the championship round. Check out the highlights of this amazing play below.
Cam’ron then stepped in to hype the crowd up, performing classic hits such as “Dipset Anthem” and “I Really Mean It.”
After the dust cleared, Washington won Session 2 and the $10K, defeating De Lima in a very hard fought battle. Washington displayed nothing but grit, intensity and power as he bulldozed his way to a spot in the final for the chance to win the $100K grand prize.
We caught up with Steven Ruple on his experiences partaking in FIGHTBALL for the first time:
Check out more highlights below and check back on March 10 as we report the grand final.
Coverage by Ayana Rashed and Omari White