Carfino Competes in World Masters Games

I have been competing in one way or another ever since I can remember. As a former professional athlete, the rush of competition is not easy to replace once your playing days are over. Coaching juniors comes close to filling that gap, but there is nothing like coming up with the big play when the game is hanging in the balance.

This years’ World Masters was played in Auckland, New Zealand, and I had just as much fun playing at the age of 55 as I did when I was young, fit and playing in front of 18,000 people.

My team was the Grumpy Old Bears, a group of friends that play on the rooftop in Crows Nest home of the Norths Bears (Northern Suburbs Basketball Association). Sprinkle in a couple ex NBL players with a great bunch of guys and you’ve got yourself a contender.

We did it in style, stayed at the Hilton, hired a boat and ate at some of New Zealand’s finest restaurants. On the basketball side of things, the GOB’s (Grumpy Old Bears) are a team that enjoys passing to one another. This is a ballers dream come true for anyone who’s played on a team full of Kobe Bryant wannabes.

We breezed through the preliminary rounds with no team getting within 20 points of us, also resting key players along the way. It was clear from the start we were going to face the Russians in the final, so we watched a couple of their games and we saw them at a couple of ours.

Finally, the finals came and from the tip we established our inside game of Ray Borner (former NBL MVP) and the evergreen Don Bickett (Illawarra Hawks) The Russian were great shooters and of course were super-efficient on both ends of the floor. The best part for me was going head to head with their guards, who had clearly played professionally in their younger years.

We lost a heart breaker in overtime, although it was a physical and often confrontational match, there was plenty of mutual respect being thrown around after the game.

A couple points shy of a perfect week at the World Masters 2017, meeting people of all ages, hanging with a great group of guys and playing this game I have loved my whole life.

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