Excitement Builds for USA E-National Team with Arrival of Official Team Gear
As with all USA Basketball national teams, the 2020 USA E-National Team was presented with official team gear and a backpack with a luggage tag that has their name on it.
Unlike most other USA Basketball team members, who typically are presented with their official team gear in person, due to COVID-19, each team member received a shipment of items in the mail.
Despite the fact that the pandemic has forced the 2020 USA E-Team to train for the 2020 FIBA Esports Open II in their separate homes, it made the unveiling of the packages no less exciting.
The online chat room was abuzz with excitement the day the collared shirts, t-shirts, sweats, hats and backpacks arrived.
Everyone was talking about their new USA Basketball gear, except two members. Rafel “Crush” Davis, who plays guard for Kings Guard Gaming, and Malik “OriginalMalik” Hobson, a guard for Knicks Gaming, at first thought they had been left out of the unboxing party.
“It was late at night and everybody said they got their gear, I was like, ‘I didn’t get mine,’” said Original Malik. “So, I go outside, checked on the porch, and it was right there. The man literally just dropped it off.”
Crush’s box arrived in the afternoon, however, the postal office in his complex wasn’t distributing packages that day.
“I was scared, because I didn’t think I got the package,” said Crush. “But I rushed out as soon as I heard my teammates got their gear. I ran to the mail room, and I saw my name on it. I ran back home, called my mom and my dad out of their room and we opened it up together.
“The first thing I saw was a basketball bag, a big USA bag with a tag with my name on it,” continued Crush. “To actually represent our country, to represent the same thing as my favorite athletes in the world, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, the Dream Team, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen … it opened my eyes a little bit more to what I’m representing. I’m thankful for this opportunity, and I will not take it for granted.”
Of course, just like anyone else who has earned the right to put on a USA shirt and compete for the red, white and blue, friends and families hit up both players with requests for items.
“I opened it up, and I called everyone in my family to come look in my bookbag,” OriginalMalik stated. “It had my name on it. Then my friend came over and actually tried to steal my hoodie. I hadn’t even worn it yet. I said, ‘No, you can’t have it.’ (laughs). Then, my cousin came over and tried to take the hat that came in the bag. It was crazy.”
“My favorite item was definitely the bookbag,” Crush said. “I can take that anywhere and people will start inquiring about whether I’m associated with USA Basketball and it’ll branch off to me explaining what I do, playing on the USA E-National Team, just to get the word out.”
In addition to Crush and OriginalMalik, also selected for the 2020 USA E-National Team were ALittleLady87 (Wendi Fleming/BallHerAlert); JBM (John Mascone/Wizards District Gaming); Kenny Got Work (Kenneth Hailey/Raptors Uprising GC); Ramo (Ramo Radoncic/Pistons GT); and Ria (Spencer Wyman/Jazz Gaming).
Knowing they earned the gear made both players even more proud that they were selected to represent USA Basketball in the North and Central America Conference of the FIBA event, which will be held Dec. 19-20 and stream live online on Facebook/USABasketball, as well as most of FIBA’s online platforms.
The USA will play five games in the round-robin conference from 12:30-6:30 p.m. (EST) on Dec. 19 against (in order) Puerto Rico, Honduras, Canada, Dominican Republic and Guatemala. The U.S. closes out its first-round games on Dec. 20 with a tilt against Costa Rica at 3:10 p.m. (EST). The top two finishing teams will feature in a best-of-three championship series, beginning at 5:20 p.m. EST that evening.
And of course, during the games, the USA team will proudly be representing in brand new swag in hopes of winning the championship.
“It really lets you know you’re part of USA Basketball,” concluded OriginalMalik.