ABA pro basketball comes to Cove
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Local basketball fans need not trek hours away for an NBA game to see some professional basketball up close, they need only stay in Copperas Cove tonight.
The Killeen-based Texas Sky Riders is an American Basketball Association (ABA) professional team that plays its home games at Camp Triumph, located at 1203 Pecan Cove Dr.
Tonight, the Texas Sky Riders face off against Japan’s Shizouka Gymrats at 8:30 p.m. The theme for this evening’s game is military night, with all military admitted free with I.D. Children 12 and under are admitted free, with $5 admission for ages 13-19, and adults 20 and up for $10. Tickets are available at the door, with vendors on site. The night will also feature a halftime show.
After tonight’s game against the Shizuoka Gymrats, the Sky Riders will hit the road for a short trip to Austin where they face off in two games against the Austin Bats on Saturday and Sunday.
The next home game will be Saturday, Feb. 4 when they take on the Tulsa Twisters at Camp Triumph, with tipoff at 6 p.m., followed by a Feb. 11 game at home against San Antonio’s Texas Red Wolves at 5 p.m.
Last Saturday evening, the Sky Riders defeated the Louisiana Cajun All Stars, beating them 177-79.
Sky Rider Dino Davis of Killeen was the player of the week in last Saturday night’s game. Several on the team roster are from Killeen and Waco, but others rounding out the Sky Riders’ lineup include players from far away like Jaquwome Jones out of Fairfax, Va., Javier Morales of Middletown, Conn., and Antwan Redding, of Thomasville, Ga.
The idea for a local pro basketball team was birthed by team owner Vivian Palmer in 2014, and she set about working to form a team to inspire young men, women, and children to excel to the next level on and off the basketball court.
A hallmark of the team is leadership development, team building, along with financial literacy and motivational speaking for its players.
The Sky Riders held tryouts in October 2016 and are now spending the season traveling throughout Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana as part of the ABA.
The American Basketball Association (ABA) is a men’s professional basketball league that was founded in 1999. The league was founded by Joe Newman and Richard P. Tinkham, with Tinkham being one of the original co-founders of the original ABA which was merged with the NBA in 1976. There are about 90 teams in the ABA across the country. The ABA season runs from November through April and has two conferences, the Red conference and the Blue conference.
According to ABA guidelines, the association’s pro teams are community driven with a focus on giving back to their communities.
For example, the Texas Sky Riders announced last July a partnership with Angels & Doves, an anti-bullying group based in Indianapolis, Ind. The Sky Riders also have an anti-bullying program, Bullies Are Cowards.
For more information on the Sky Riders, visit texasskyriders.com.