This weekend was my annual pilgrimage to the desert to play in the Las Vegas Invitational Basketball Tournament benefiting a new gym being built in Little Tokyo. This year things were a little different considering that half the team from last year wasn’t playing this year, and most of the spouses weren’t coming due to various reasons.

I drove up with Greg on thursday afternoon where we met up with the others for our traditional pre-tournament steak dinner (there’s just no time during the tournement) this year at the Old Homestead inside the Caesars Palace. Its a very lively environment making it difficult to talk even across the table, but also it was the opening game for the NFL so it might have been a little more noisy then normal.

Greg and i shared the lollipop ribeye for 2, but got to sample everyone else’s beef as well. I think i preferred the regular ribeye out of all the beef dishes. We also had to try the Donut Breadpudding that Grace has been salivating over for the past few months, and we also go the keylime pie and cheesecake.

As for the actual basketball tournament i’ll be honest where i didn’t i have high hopes for this team getting far because we had a very difficult bracket playing teams we’ve lost to before, and having a roster that was missing some very good players. The only benefit we had was that our first Saturday game was at 11am, instead of a 9am or 10am game.

Game 1 vs. Slow Break had an ugly start with the team not clicking offensively and getting down by 8 in at the end of the first half. Towards the end of the 1st half i took a charge but got called for a blocking foul which got me fuming. The second half we came back furiously to take the lead and create enough of a cushion to get our team Captain Nomo to play the last few minutes which is always a good thing for us.

Game 2 vs. Kaizen started much like game 1 falling behind early but again we fought hard to take the lead in the second half, but just couldn’t keep it up the last minute of the game and lost by 1 point.

Game 3 vs. Higashi again with another slow start but not as much as the previous games. We easily caught up and pulled ahead to finish 3rd place in the tournament. This was a welcomed finish after having such a tough schedule, and finishing 4th in the last three years.