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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hawai'i players take shot at tryout

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer


The Hawai'i Mega Force took their first step toward becoming a professional basketball team this week.

The Mega Force completed their first open tryout yesterday at Kalaheo High gym. Sixteen players — most of them with Hawai'i ties — participated in the two-day tryout.

"I was hoping for more guys to turn out, but it still went pretty well," head coach George Gilmore said. "This is our first year, so we're looking for everything at this stage. There was some talent here. A couple of these guys definitely have a shot."

Mega Force owner Orrys Williams did not sign any players to contracts yesterday, and said a roster will not be set until early October. He said there will be at least one more open tryout in September.

The Mega Force will compete in the 54-team American Basketball Association. The season will begin in November.

"I have scouts in other parts of the United States, and they're going to send some players here," Williams said. "We'd like to bring in some big frontline players."

Williams said he would like to carry "at least a few" players with Hawai'i ties on the final roster.

"People bypass Hawai'i because they think there are no players here," Williams said. "But Hawai'i has talent. They just need representation, and this is a good opportunity."

Among the players who participated in this week's tryouts were former University of Hawai'i players Jason Carter and Kaunaoa McGee, and former Hawai'i Pacific players Kawika Smith and Scott Kato.

"It's a chance to play and make some money, but the real thing behind it is to play competitive basketball again," Kato said. "Even if it's all Hawai'i guys, I think we can at least be competitive. But if they bring in some good Mainland players, I think this could be a good team."

Former Chaminade player John Lane said the new team in Hawai'i is motivating several players to "get back in shape."

"There's basically nothing here for guys after college," Lane said. "There's park leagues and stuff, but it's hard to get motivated for that. I feel like I have a few years left, so I really want to give this a shot."

The players went through several drills and full-court scrimmages over the two days of workouts.

"Most of these guys are used to playing in the park atmosphere," Gilmore said. "But professional basketball is a whole different game and so we wanted to see how these guys react to the professional style."

Williams said he will carry 12 players on his active roster, but he would like to keep several Hawai'i players ready in reserve.

"If somebody gets hurt or gets sick, I want to have other players ready right away and that's why it's good to see these (Hawai'i) kids now," he said.

Williams said the next open tryout will likely be Sept. 2, 3 and 4. He said several former ABA stars such as George Gervin, David Thompson and George McGinnis are expected to be in Hawai'i that weekend to promote the team and the league.

"We're the real thing," Williams said. "We're not going anywhere and we want Hawai'i to be a big part of this league."