For two ballers with Queens ties, The People’s Games provided a chance for amateurs to show professional skill on the basketball court.
Daniel Alotta, originally from Jackson Heights, was first asked to join the team as a scout. However, when other scouts saw him play, they convinced him to lace up and hit the court.
“People said that I’d be a great representative for the team,” said Alotta, 35. “I decided to give it a go.”
The People’s Games is a new sports concept that offers non-pros from all walks of life the opportunity to represent their cities in competition against other U.S. cities to prove which has the best athletes in various sports.
The city team – made up of the best of the amateur crop from the five boroughs – put up a great effort in two close and hard-fought games. However, in the end it was the stingy L.A. defense that proved to be the difference in the best-of-three series – as New York fell 59-55 in game one and 58-55 in game two.
Alotta played in three division 1 sports during his time at Temple University – rowing, football and track. He didn’t even start playing basketball until after college.
“I have the least amount of basketball experience on the team, but probably the most athletic experience,” he said. “When you know how to play sports, it can translate into any sport. Competitiveness or athletic skill can translate.”
Alotta said that his biggest assets are his lungs and his feet. He said that he can run all day and never get tired – this helps him play his game, that of a full court press.
“I’m not the one that’s going to dunk over a big player – that’s not my role,” he said. “My goal is wearing my opponents down.”
That contrasts with the game of the team’s other Queens product, Nygel Roach. The 26- year-old Manhattan resident, who walked-on the St. John’s basketball team for three seasons, has been called a beast on the court. Roach, who now works as a marketing associate with the New York Knicks, said that he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play in the Games.
“I’m really excited to be a part of this,” said Roach. “I always knew that basketball was my love. I always wanted to continue to get better at it and work hard to hone my skills. When I found out about the games, I knew it would be a great opportunity.”
Roach said that playing for the team’s hall of fame coach, NBA legend Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, was a huge plus for him and every other player on New York’s team.
“You really can’t ask for more than that – the man is a legend in basketball,” said Roach. “I hope to call on him for advice, not only in the game, but through the future.”
There are plans to roll out The People’s Games with competition in three additional sports this year – soccer, baseball and football. Exact times and the process for signup, tryouts, practices and games will be determined soon.
Keep checking www.peoplesgames.com for details.