Fast-paced, action-packed basketball will be on display Thursday night at the Destin Community Center when the Emerald Coast Knights take on the Panama City Breeze as part of the American Basketball League, a professional minor league basketball organization.
Tip off is at 7 p.m.
The ABL is like a "NBA developmental league," said Knights Coach and General Manager Wayemon Powell. "If you do good this year," the players stand a chance in playing professional ball in Europe.
The Knights, which call the Destin Community Center their home court, is made up of players from New Jersey, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and Florida, plus a few locals.
The four locals include Damon Maddox, Jason Sanders, Benjamin Colon and Magic Hall.
The American Basketball League boasts rosters made up of former college players and players who previously played in European Leagues and the NBA Developmental League. The ABL is a 12 team league with six franchises in Florida and six in Texas. Each team plays 24 games, 12 home and 12 away, with a playoff at the end of the season.
Coach Powell said he picked Destin over Cocoa Beach for his team.
"I fell in love with Destin ... we put a team together and it's working out," Powell said.
Powell said they went through four rounds of draft to select the team.
"These are guys that didn't make the NBA. We're developing the younger guys to be able to advance to play in Europe," Powell said. "But it is professional ball."
The American Basketball League is the first of its kind to play with European rules. The differences range from the distance from the 3-point line to timeouts per halves.
The Knights are one of six teams that make up the Tropics Conference. Other teams in the league include West Palm Beach Piranhas, Heartland Eagles, Davie Stars, Panama City Breeze and Fort Lauderdale Sharks.
Last week they had their first home game with 300 to 400 people in the bleachers. The Knights took on the West Palm Beach Piranhas and won 108-84.
The Knights were led by 6-foot-6 DeAndre Hall, a guard from Texas Southern University with 27 points, two rebounds and three assists. Forward Benjamin Colon from Florida State College at Jacksonville added 21 points, while center Alex Jacobson, a 7-footer, from the University of Arizona chipped in with 14 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.
"We're very entertaining to watch," Powell said. "You'll see a lot of fast break and slam dunking."
The Emerald Coast Knights are currently leading the conference with a 2-1 record. Game time is 7 p.m. Thursday at home against the Breeze of Panama City. Cost is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and school age children, children under 5 are free.
UPCOMING HOME GAMES
Jan. 31 - Knights vs. Panama City Breeze
Feb. 2 - Knights vs. Davie Stars
Feb. 7 - Knights vs. Heartland Eagles
Feb. 14 - Knights vs. Fort Lauderdale Sharks
Feb. 28 - Knights vs. West Palm Beach Piranhas
*All games start at 7 p.m.