Ed Jones of Abbotsford

Ed Jones of Abbotsford

Local hoopsters strike gold at World Masters Games

A group of Fraser Valley basketball players put together a team called Legends and Liars, and they proved to embody more of the former.

Having decided to travel to Torino, Italy to compete in the World Masters Games, the only thing left to settle for a group of local men’s basketball players was their team name.

They came up with something of a cryptic handle: Legends and Liars. The idea being that these hoopsters in the 55-plus age bracket were still athletic legends in their own minds, but to outsiders – including their skeptical spouses – they were likely stretching the truth.

In the end, the local teams proved to embody the former more than the latter.

Legends and Liars, comprised of players from around the Fraser Valley who play in the Abby-Mission over-50 masters basketball league, won the gold medal in the 55-plus age group, and a second team in the 60-plus men’s division took the bronze medal.

“The experience is unbelievable,” said Ed Jones of the 55-plus squad, reflecting on the World Masters Games. “You have 19,000 athletes into one city, and there’s every imaginable sport. It’s kind of like the Olympics without the hype.

“Coming from Abbotsford and playing together for as many years as we have been, it’s very rewarding.”

The 55-plus team, featuring Abbotsford residents Jones and Harb Gill, went 4-0 in the round robin, then edged a team from Ireland by six points in the semifinals. They capped their run to the title with a 12-point triumph over an Australian entry in the gold medal game.

“We were up by two with five minutes to go, and then we got a few steals and were able to pull it off,” Jones said. “We basically ran them into the ground at the end. We had a three-minute stretch where we played extremely well, and they couldn’t stand that kind of pressure.”

The 60-plus squad, which included Abby residents Stan Petersen, Michael Horner and Don Macdonald, were knocked off by a Lithuanian team in the semis, but bounced back to crush an Australian foe by 30 points in the bronze medal game.