Hoops In The Sun All-Star Game Recap
…in the words of Matt Caputo.
by Franklyn Calle
Hoops in the Sun is one of top community based basketball programs in the New York City area streeball scene. The tournament is held every weekend throughout the summer time at the Bronx’s Orchard Beach, which according to the NY Daily News has over 700,00 visitors during the summer weekends. Rufino (Joe) Cruz Sr., whom many knew as Joe “Pops” Cruz founded the event back in 2000 as an 8-team Pro-Am Men’s league for anyone over the age of 18. He was influenced into creating his own basketball league at the Bronx beach after a business trip to Venice Beach, California in 1999. A Vietnam War veteran, Cruz Sr. had been involved with managing basketball tournaments for over 40 years such as the Walk Away From Drugs Tournament, the Roundball Classic League and the Nike Pro-Am Summer League at Hunter College.
The following year, a Women’s Pro-Am league was born along with a Youth Clinic in conjunction with the New York City Parks and Recreation for kids between the ages of 7-12. In 2004, H.I.T.S. expanded their men’s league to a 10-team league. That same year the program suffered a tremendous loss when Joe “Pops” Cruz died on August 16th at the age of 57 as the league prepared for the start of the playoffs. Soon after, “Start N’ 5,” a team he created from the get-go, was renamed “Pops 5” in his honor. In 2007, the basketball courts were the men’s division games are played were named after him. “Pops” sons, Joe Jr. and Randy, took over the helm and have continued to produce a top-notch league throughout the years as NBA players, college players and pro overseas players regularly come in and don the uniform of one of its 10 teams.
This summer marks the 10th year anniversary of the league with the All-Star game just having passed this past weekend. St. John’s incoming recruit, Dwight Hardy, tore it up as he came away with 49 points after knocking down nine 3-pointers and taking home the MVP honors. The 6-2 Bronx native led the Hoops in the Sun All-Stars to a 137-136 victory over Together We Chill All-Stars in a overtime thriller. Our man at SLAM Matt Caputo, formerly our Associate Editor and author of the blog “Too Real for the League,” was at Orchard Beach this past weekend to cover the event in his NY Daily News story debut. So you know we have to show him the love. Congrats and we wish him nothing but the best for the future. Make sure you check out his piece!