Men’s Basketball: Greentree Pro-Am summer league regular season comes to an end

By Pat McAteer / Staff Writer

In the final night of regular-season action of the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am summer league at the Greentree SportsPlex, members of Pitt’s men’s basketball team tried to help their respective squads pick up wins heading into the summer league playoffs, with the champion to be declared on July 18.

But only one team with current Panthers earned a win on an exciting night that saw each of the three games feature tight contests.

GNC 88, SPK Law 81 (OT)

During high school, incoming Pitt freshman guard Chris Jones was the player who had the ball in his hands in the final minutes of close games.

Leading Teaneck High School in Teaneck, N.J., to a 59-4 record during his final two seasons, Jones came to Pitt with a reputation of playing well in his team’s time of need.

On July 11, Jones showed his willingness to lead his team, SPK, in the final minutes of a game, despite eventually losing in overtime to the league’s best team, GNC.

With less than a minute left in regulation, Jones, who scored 23 points, stole a pass and hit a 3-point shot to tie the score at 69 after SPK trailed by as many as 14 points in the game. After GNC hit one of two foul shots on its next possession, Jones hit a jumper to give SPK its first lead of the game at 71-70.

But after Jones missed one of his two foul shots, GNC tied the contest to take it into overtime, where APK finally fell to the league-dominating GNC.

Jones said he thought he played well offensively in the loss and attributed much of his performance in the final minutes to his experience at Teaneck.

“In high school, in the last couple of minutes, the ball was always in my hands, and I always tried to make plays,” Jones said. “I just try to translate that to this summer league game now.”

Pitt redshirt junior forward Talib Zanna added 16 points and 10 rebounds for SPK, who finished with a regular-season record of 1-5. GNC will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed after it finished as the top team in the summer league with a record of 5-1.

PGT Trucking 75, UPMC 70

With a team featuring highly touted Pitt freshmen James Robinson and Steven Adams as well as redshirt junior Lamar Patterson, every team set its targets on PGT before the summer league even started.

And on the final night of the regular season, UPMC gave PGT nearly all it could handle. After falling behind 18-8 in the first half, PGT used a 27-18 run to take a one-point lead into the half.

The game remained close in the second half, but after Patterson extended the lead by scoring three of his game-high 33 points on a basket and foul, PGT never looked back.

Patterson, who added seven rebounds and seven assists, said the summer league has given him an opportunity to work on his role as being one of Pitt’s main scorers.

“You never know when you’re going to have to make a tough shot, so summer league is the best time to practice that instead of during the season,” Patterson said. “I know [Pitt] Coach [Jamie] Dixon is not going to allow that. I just want to be able to get shots up in the flow of the game rather than in the back by myself.”

Adams added 16 points and 14 rebounds for PGT, who finished the season tied for the league lead at 5-1, while Robinson scored five points with four assists.

Pitt redshirt sophomore Cam Wright scored 25 points and brought down 10 rebounds for UPMC, while sophomore Malcolm Gilbert scored six points with six rebounds for UPMC, which finished 3-3.

South Hills Audi 85, Steel City Tickets 73

In the final matchup of the night, South Hills Audi, a team featuring several alumni from Pitt and other local colleges, showed Steel City Tickets that elders know best.

Pitt graduates Gilbert Brown, Chevon Troutman, Levance Fields, John DeGroat and Keith Benjamin scored a combined 83 of South Hills Audi’s 85 points as it cruised past the Steel City Tickets.

Pitt senior Dante Taylor scored nine points and brought down seven rebounds for the Steel City Tickets. After the game, Taylor said the players benefited from the opportunity to play against alumni.

“It’s great because you can learn a lot from [the Pitt alumni],” he said. “Those guys play hard, they never give up. They can still play. It’s not like they’re washed up or too old. They’re probably like three or four years out [of college.]”

Pitt freshman Durand Johnson continued his string of impressive performances for the Steel City Tickets by leading the team in scoring with 21 points and eight rebounds.

South Hills Audi finished the regular season with a record of 3-3, while the Steel City Tickets closed with a 1-5 record.

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