Exhibition basketball game involves local alumni, men’s league all-stars

Nathan Wright, a former Murrieta Mesa basketball player, goes up for a rebound in a recent San Diego Kings exhibition game in Murrieta. Alicia Salcedo photo.

What do you get when you invite a semi-pro basketball team to the area so they can take on some men’s league all-stars? A jam packed, fun-filled, intense game of basketball, that’s what. Last month the Take Pride Men’s Basketball League hosted an all-star game with the San Diego Kings, which had every bit of energy that a pro game would have, and then some.

Based out of San Diego, the Kings are a semi-professional basketball team playing in the American Basketball Association (ABA), which currently houses two players that are alumni of Murrieta Mesa High School. Braxton Smith and Nathan Wright, both 2012 graduates, were excited to be a part of the exhibition game held at their former high school and both put on a show.

“It was a great feeling to come back and showcase our talents again for the community. This is an opportunity we worked hard for and we are blessed to see where this road takes us,” said Wright, who had 27 points and 12 rebounds in the game.

“Murrieta Mesa was in its infancy and still trying to find itself when we came here, but the new Athletic Director, Mr. John Broussard, really has made strides at the school with his vision and this opportunity to be back in our community and have our families come watch us really meant a lot,” stated Smith.

Braxton Smith, a 2012 Murrieta Mesa graduate, looks to take an open shot during a recent exhibition game at his former high school. Alicia Salcedo photo.

Like Murrieta Mesa, the San Diego Kings admin, players and staff know what it means to be in the infancy of something, but they are off to a great start thanks to their founders. The Kings were started by a Southern California entrepreneur and philanthropist, Abraham Muheize, who attended El Cajon High School before going to college to play football. Muheize was plagued by injury in college and decided not to pursue a professional career, but instead got his business degree from Montana Sate and Central Washington and partnered with the top San Diego Accident Attorney, King Aminpour, for this venture. The mission of the San Diego Kings is to provide a high level of sports and entertainment for the local communities, where they also hope to be very involved with in giving back every step of the way.

“Starting from scratch is always the hardest thing you can do in any business, says Muheize. Trying to start a basketball team may be even harder. First thing I had to do was find a partner that could see my vision and believe in me. After 5 months of pestering him, I finally got into King Aminpour’s office for 5 minutes, which turned into 45 minutes and him becoming my business partner in this amazing adventure.”

The feel of the game was intense and the energy was high from both sides of the court, especially going into halftime where it was 58-51 in favor of the Kings. Of course supplying your own hype man can never go wrong and that came from DJ Artistic, who not only provides the pump up music for the San Diego Kings, whether home or away, but he also acts as a roving commentator throughout the game.

“I think the turnout was great, I’m really glad that everything went well and everyone had a good time,” said Jon Cantrell, owner of the Take Pride Men’s League.

Jon Cantrell (middle, red shirt), owner of the Take Pride Men’s League, coaches his All-Star team in a recent exhibition game against the San Diego Kings semi-pro team. Alicia Salcedo photo.

Take Pride, which is the men’s basketball league that calls Murrieta Mesa its home every Sunday afternoon during their season, hosted the exhibition game as a means to help get the semi-pro team some work. Cantrell, who coached the TPML All-Stars, selected players from his top division of teams that featured many former collegiate level players and some active players that still play semi-pro basketball overseas.

“We just wanted to make sure we gave them a good run, to help them work on some things as their season approaches,” added Cantrell.

Though the Take Pride All-Star team did pull out the win, everything was done in the spirit of fun, with plenty of back-and-forth banter from both teams, to keep with the spirit of the game.

“It’s a very emotional sport, not like any other because you have to channel everything and take it one quick possession at a time. This was a close game the whole time and the fan support was great. I can’t thank John Broussard enough and everyone behind him and all he does for the community with the school always in mind.”

Not only did the alumni players get the chance to showcase their talent in front of their former home town crowd, players like Gerald Williams (Tennessee State) and Ivan Patterson (CBU), both who played collegiate basketball and have ties to the area, got the chance to get some reps in front of the coaching staff for the San Diego Kings, who had good things to say about the talent from the home team.

Jeff Harper Harris, Kings head coach and general manager, who is also the head coach of the Lincoln High School basketball team, said this was the talent they needed to see before heading into the season.

“We were very impressed with the level of play from the team Jon put together,” stated Harris.  “There were some very good players, players that we would love to see in the future as Kings.”

The San Diego Kings visited Murrieta Mesa High School to take on the Take Pride Men’s League All-Stars in a recent exhibition game. Alicia Salcedo photo.

Take Pride’s Gerald Williams, 25, had literally just gotten off a plane from Sweden that same morning, where he spent the last 8 months playing basketball overseas and had a lot of advice for the young players from the Kings squad.

“I can see them going far in this game, as long as they continue to have the passion. The road is not the same for all of us, but I know I wake up every day and thank God for allowing me to keep playing this sport. This was a fun experience. I had a really good time and am glad to have given them a good run.”

William’s who’s dad lives in Lake Elsinore, will be working out here locally and utilizing the TPML for the next few months while he infringes on his ultimate goal of playing in the NBA one day. Menifee’s Ivan Patterson, who went to Paloma Valley and graduated in 2010, was another one of the difference makers in the game for the TPML All-Stars and had this to say about his competition, “The King squad is only going to get better, they played great and I look forward to checking in on them.”

The 21 game schedule for the San Diego Kings got underway Nov. 4, with all home games being played at Grossmont College on the weekends. For more information on the San Diego Kings visit www.sdkingsbasketball.com. To Learn more about the Take Pride Men’s League, visit www.takepridebasketball.com.

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