Some of the top one-on-one basketball players from Los Angeles and beyond headed to Venice Beach on Saturday to test their skills at the Red Bull King of the Rock qualifier. This one-on-one basketball tournament is comprised of qualifiers all over the globe, with the top 64 players advancing to the finals held in The Yard on the island of Alcatraz on September 28. Out of the Los Angeles qualifier’s field of 64 contestants, it was winner, Maurice Spillers, and runner-up, Davontae Stanley, who earned a spot in the finals on The Rock.
The day started off with “June gloom” weather, but after all 64 players had registered to compete and were getting ready to face their first competitors, the sun emerged and heated up the iconic Venice Beach outdoor courts. Much to the surprise of everyone there, Los Angeles Clippers All-Star, Blake Griffin, showed up to check out the talent. Soon after Griffin arrived, his Los Angeles Clippers teammate, DeAndre Jordan, also made an appearance. Griffin gave some words of encouragement to the 64 hopefuls, and engaged with the crowd, signing autographs and shaking hands. The superstar duo watched as the competition heated up and competitors started being sent home. “The Red Bull King of the Rock qualifier reminds me of growing up playing one-on-one games in the park, when basketball is at it’s purest form,” said Griffin. “I’m excited to go out to Alcatraz for the finals. It’ll be the best one-on-one players in the world, so the competition is going to be at another level.”
Returning to this year’s qualifier was the 2012 Red Bull King of the Rock Venice Beach champion, Maurice Spillers. The 6’7” 39-year-old traveled to the Red Bull King of the Rock Finals on Alcatraz last year, and not having finished as well as he would have liked, Spillers decided he needed another shot at the title. Spillers has had a successful career playing ball overseas, and recently retired ending his professional career in Argentina. When asked what he’ll do differently at the finals this year, Spillers said, “I plan to not let up on my opponent this year, like I did last year.” He continued, “It’s blood, sweat and tears, no more smiles. I just gotta go and do what I know I can do.”
In the final game of the qualifying competition, Spillers was up against Davontae Stanley. Stanley, a 22-year-old Los Angeleno, is currently working out with Los Angeles Trade Technical College basketball team, and will find out this fall if he makes the team. In regards to coming in second place to Spillers, Stanley said, “he was just a little too big and a little too strong for me.”
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 fourth year, the global one-on-one basketball tournament will return with competitors qualifying from 25 countries. On September 28, 64 finalists will head to the unforgiving island to put it all on the line in The Yard, but only one can be crowned Red Bull King of the Rock.
Qualifiers are kicking off around the globe and will take place in the coming months, ending in September. Players interested in competing should visit www.redbull.com/kingoftherock for more information. The 64 finalists will include players from the 24 international final qualifiers held in Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brazil, Czech Republic, Egypt, Georgia, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Ukraine. In addition, the United States will hold 20 qualifiers, and returning champions Izeah “Clutch” Bowman (2010) and Hugh “Baby Shaq” Jones (2011 & 2012) have received an automatic bid back this year.
Both the qualifiers and finals will incorporate a regulation 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 scoring will be two and three pointers. Winners will move on 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.
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 will be teaming up with EA Sports and adidas for this year’s historic event.