EASTON, PA — It was a successful trip east for coach Mark Dannhoff and his two team leaders, Deshawn Munson and Chuck Guy, for the 2023 TBL All-Star Weekend. Dannhoff was the head coach for Team Grant (made of Central and Midwest Conference All-Stars) and Team Grant coasted to a 161-135 victory over Team Blake in the 2023 TBL All-Star Game.
Terrell Brown of Wichita was named the Player of the Game. Brown, who was a replacement for teammate Teddy Allen, had 23 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Cam Mitchell of Kentucky had a team-high 26 points and seven rebounds. Vance Hall (Derby City) had 21 points. Derek ‘Hawk’ Hawthorne from Kokomo had 19 points and seven rebounds.
The Fire’s Deshawn Munson had six points, nine rebounds and an assist while Chuck Guy had five assists, four points, and three rebounds. In addition to Brown, the other Central Conference reps were Paul Parks of Shreveport who had eight points, and Ethan Chargois of Enid, who tallied 13 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
“Well, I just thought the entire event was fantastic,” said Fire and Team Grant head coach Mark Dannhoff. “I’m really happy for both teams. Players got to come here, perform and show what their abilities are. They got rewarded for their accomplishments throughout the first half of the season so I think everybody had a great time. There really is no loser in this game. It’s a group of guys that get to compete against guys they don’t get to compete with during the regular season and develop relationships and great friendships.”
Dannhoff continued with what was the highlight for him: “Just getting to know the guys, developing relationships with guys outside my own team. I really cherish those moments. I became a fan of each one of them and look forward to following them even closer as their season goes on.”
Team Blake, which was made up of the top players from East and West Conference teams, was coached by Derrick Rowland of Albany. Rowland was the head coach of the Fire in their first season in 2022. James ‘JJ’ Richardson (Georgia) led Team Blake with 22 points while Chris Turner (Bakersfield) had 20 points. Josh Roman-Angueira of Fayetteville had a team-high 10 rebounds.
Team Grant led 86-66 at halftime after leading 41-30 after the first quarter. Team Grant continued things in the third period, pushing their margin to 121-97. Team Grant used the three-pointer for a big edge, making 21 of 62 (34%) from outside. Team Grant also held a 67-55 edge on the glass.
The All-Star rosters were split into two teams, Team Blake and Team Grant. Blake Gabou is the 11-year-old CEO of JRTBL, while Grant Gabou is the 8-year-old president of JRTBL. The Gabou brothers are the grandsons of Evelyn and David Magley, the heads and owners of TBL as the CEO and President.
In other events during TBL All-Star Weekend, the Three-Point Contest was won by Daequon Antoine from the Raleigh Firebirds. Emmanuel Egbuta, of the Reading Rebels, was this year’s Dunk Contest champion. His teammate Rich McCalop Jr was last year’s champion. The weekend was hosted by the Lehigh Valley Legends at Lafayette College in Easton, Penn.
The Fire will return from the All-Star break on Thursday, April 13 at 7 p.m. when they host the Oklahoma Panthers, for Live United Night sponsored by United Way of Pottawatomie County. The Oklahoma Panthers were previously known this season as the Southeast Texas Panthers but were forced to fold for financial reasons. The team was relocated and reconstructed in El Reno, Oklahoma. Many of the Panthers’ players have ties to the OKC metro area or played college basketball for schools in the state of Oklahoma. Tickets are available here on the Fire website and start as low as $10.
ABOUT THE FIRE AND THE BASKETBALL LEAGUE
The Potawatomi Fire concluded their first TBL (The Basketball League) season in June 2022, winning 21 of 29 games played including the playoffs. They were 18-6 in the regular season to earn the third seed in the Central Conference portion of the playoffs. They won their first round playoff series before falling in the conference semifinal round. The Fire are the first professional basketball team owned by a Native American tribe (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) in Oklahoma. The Fire compete in the Central Conference of TBL, a men’s professional basketball league, now with nearly 50 teams in over 20 different states across the U.S. and Canada. The Fire organization was named the 2022 winner of the Jim Koch Award as TBL’s Best Ran Business, despite the Fire being a first year franchise. The dance team of the Fire, the Fire Girls, were named Best Dance Team.
The TBL season begins in February and runs through June, concluding with a championship playoff tournament. The players that make up the rosters of the TBL teams are former NCAA (Division I, II or III) or NAIA athletes. Many have played in the NBA or NBA’s developmental G-League as well as professionally overseas for several years and are continuing their careers closer to home or seeking a larger contract in another professional league.
Story by Justin Wollard • Photos by Landon Kidney