D-League Finalist Fort Wayne Mad Ants Making A Run in The Basketball Tournament

The Ants Alumni have championship blood. The team, coming out of the Midwest region of The Basketball Tournament, features a roster of players that have appeared in back-to-back NBA D-League Finals for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, capturing the title in 2014, and that winning formula makes the Ants a serious threat to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s chances of a repeat.

The Ants will play their first game of the Super 17 on Friday, against either the Midwest Dream Squad or the defending TBT champions, the Notre Dame Fighting Alumni, who will both square-off on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Despite the growing popularity of The Basketball Tournament, tickets for this round are very affordable, being just $20 for adults and $10 for kids.

Of the 2014 NBA D-League Champions, eight players will suit up for the Ants Alumni, including Matt Bouldin, Brian Butch, Will Frisby, Anthony Harris, Ron Howard, Trey McKinney-Jones, Chris Porter and Sadiel Rojas. Tommy Smith is the lone player that wasn’t a part of the Ants’ win but his contributions will greatly benefit an experienced group like the Ants Alumni, who all know each other very well.

“All these guys have played together before,” said Garrett Martz, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the D-League team. “If you look at the Notre Dame team that won last year, the chemistry is huge. Everyone knows and likes each other. They’ll know their roles and play for one another. This won’t be about performing in front of scouts. They’ll be focused on winning the entire tournament.”

The Ants have the experience. They have the personnel and they now have former NBA journeyman Stephen Graham. The eight-year NBA veteran has spent the last two years playing overseas in Venezuela and Puerto Rico and like his fellow teammates, Graham also played for the Ants in 2011. It’s definitely a family affair as far as the Ants roster is concerned and that togetherness could help lead to a title.

The million dollar grand prize is the perfect gift for players who aren’t earning NBA contracts and the exposure is self-explanatory. With the championship game scheduled to air on ESPN, the national TV coverage will expose possibly the Ants, giving them the eyes one might need to surprise a scout and maybe earn an invite to an NBA team or an opportunity overseas. The NBA Summer League is over and The Basketball Tournament is serving as a viable option for entertaining basketball during the dog days of summer.