After a day of scattered thunderstorms, the courts dried up and the lights came on and the best one-on-one basketball players from Ft. Bliss competed in Red Bull King of the Rock Qualifier. Fifty active duty military personnel played to earn a spot to compete in the Finals at The Rock - Alcatraz. Caleb Hunter, a 6’ 1” baller from Harlem, NY, and a Military Intelligence Officer at Fort Bliss, took the top prize and earned his trip to The Rock to compete for the “King” title.
In 2010, Red Bull King of the Rock went down in history as the first official sporting event ever to be held on Alcatraz and the first time basketball had been played on The Rock since the inmates left the island over 50 years ago. Now in its third year, the global one-on-one basketball tournament returns with the most competitive field to date. Bigger and better than ever, Red Bull King of the Rock has expanded to qualifiers in 25 countries, including 32 in the United States. From these qualifiers, 64 finalists will head to the island to put it all on the line in The Yard on Alcatraz on September 22. International qualifiers will take place in the following countries: Dominican Republic, Georgia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Slovak Republic, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Jamaica, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Canada and Ukraine.
Competing in the evening desert heat forced players to pace themselves, and the one-on-one format took its toll, causing players to run out of steam as they advanced through the rounds. The wind picked up, making outside shots especially difficult. In the Final Game, Caleb was matched up against Jeff Anderson a 6’ 4” post player. Jeff employed the tactic he’d been relying on all day – an extremely physical style of play that emphasized his size and strength as primary offensive weapons. Caleb countered with quickness and accuracy from behind the arc. But in order to stop the sheer power of Jeff, Caleb made it rain “3’s” and will try to continue his reign at the finals.
“The competition was tough here today and I know for a fact that I will need to hit the gym everyday to work on my jumper if I am going to be a good rep for Ft Bliss come September 22.” said Hunter.
Both the qualifiers and finals will incorporate a regular one-on-one basketball set-up where players go head-to-head on an outdoor court using a single elimination tournament bracket.
There are only two options: win and continue on, or lose and go home. Games will last five minutes and be subject to regulation hoops rules and scoring (two and three pointers). Winners will move to the next court to face another player, so while pure hoops ability is essential, strategy and endurance will also play a major role in overall victory. Players have to be tough to make it to The Rock, but must also play smart, as five fouls equals an automatic loss. Qualifiers will contain four intense half-court games going on simultaneously, until all eyes are on the final game.
Red Bull King of the Rock is open to amateurs and pros alike, however players must be 16 years of age or older to participate. Participants under the age of 18 will need to have a parent or guardian present to sign a waiver at the qualifier. Registration is first come first served at each qualifier, so players should arrive early to grab one of the coveted 64 spots.
Red Bull teamed up with Li-Ning, Skull Candy, 24 Hour Fitness, Dime Magazine, Ft. Bliss MWR, Casa Ford, B.O.S.S. and the USAA for the Ft. Bliss Qualifier.
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Photo Credit: Thatcher Dorn, Red Bull Content Pool