Back in 2009, the Villanova Wildcats went on a Final Four run that captured the attention of many Philadelphia basketball fans.

On Saturday morning, two members — Reggie Redding and Antonio Pena — of that team got back together on the court once again. This time the goal wasn’t a national championship; it was $1 million.

Pena and Redding suited up in the second annual The Basketball Tournament (TBT) for the Liberty Ballers, a team named after an SB Nation Sixers blog that goes by the same name. The former Wildcats joined fellow former Big 5 players from Temple and St. Joe’s, as well as a trio of Siena College alums, to defeat the Wrecking Crew, 93-77, in the Northeast Regional held at Philadelphia University.

“We had a couple days to practice before today’s game,” Redding said. “I think it really helped us out.”

Redding, who tied for the team lead in points with Pena (20), said it was great getting back together with his former teammates to play in the city he grew up in. The Philadelphia native finished 8 of 13 from the field, but perhaps his two biggest baskets came with just over three minutes remaining in the game.

After a steal, Redding took it the other way with a layup and was fouled. Though he missed the free throw, the forward nailed a three on the next possession down the floor to make it 89-75 and essentially put the game away.

 

This was Redding’s TBT debut, but for Pena, it’s his second appearance in the tournament. Last year, Pena teamed up with the core of the 2009 Final Four squad to form Team ROBY, which included Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher, among others.

Liberty Ballers editor Jake Pavorsky reached out to players earlier this year looking to make a team to compete for the million-dollar prize.

“For me it was tough,” Pavorsky said. “I didn’t know any of these guys really.”

With a confused look on his face, Pena joked with Pavorsky.

“You didn’t know me?” Pena said.

With a laugh, Pavorsky said back that he wasn’t as “tight” with Pena yet and that he messaged probably 40 guys on Facebook to see if they were interested in joining the team.

“That was you?” Redding said. “My bad.”

Ryan Rossiter, who had a double-double himself in the 2009 tournament against Ohio State, added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Ballers.

The Liberty Ballers move on to face DMV’s Finest on Sunday at 11 a.m.

Back Together
Though the Wrecking Crew fell to the Liberty Ballers, it gave some other local players a chance to reconnect.

The roster featured four former Lehigh University players, including three that played in what may be the biggest upset in college basketball history. That game, of course, was the upset of No. 2 seeded Duke in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Holden Greiner, who organized the team, said it was the first time they’ve been able to play together in a few years but they enjoyed the experience and reliving the big win three years ago. Edgar “Mackey” McKnight shared the same sentiments.

“Basically what he’s saying is, ‘Thank you guys for bringing us together again,’” McKnight said with a big smile.

Jordan Hamilton, who started at forward for the Mountain Hawks in the Duke upset, registered a game high 26 points on 10 of 17 shooting in the loss. The defeat, however, didn’t sour the experience for Hamilton and the rest of the Wrecking Crew.

“I really enjoyed it,” Hamilton said. “It’s a unique tournament. I didn’t really know about it until Holden asked me to play, and coming out here, being able to play against professional level guys from all over the country … you’re not going to find that where I’m from at least.”

When asked if they were going to come back again for another shot at the money, McKnight, Hamilton and Greiner all said they look forward to the opportunity. Of course, next time around, they’ll make some changes.

“Probably going to get a hotel for the night instead of sleeping on couches,” Hamilton said.

DMV’s Finest keeps rolling
DMV’s Finest, which steamrolled through its first opponent Friday, made easy work of its Saturday competition as well.

The team, made up mostly of Georgetown alumni and Sixers’ forward Jerami Grant’s older brother Jerai, defeated WOYG (Work On Your Game), 95-61, to move on. Five players scored in double figures, including Charles Smith, who led the way with 21 points.

 

With a matchup against Liberty Ballers awaiting them on Sunday, DMV’s Finest isn’t worried, even though the Ballers might have home-court advantage.

“We know their players, we’ve seen them play, we’ve played against them,” Jason Clark said. “We’re prepared for it like any other game. We’re going to go out there and play our game. The big focus is on us. We know what we’re capable of and we just got to go out there and do it."

Saturday also saw City of Gods roll to an easy 115-50 win over Lynchburg College Club, with former Sixer Xavier Silas leading the pack with 31 points and eight rebounds. They’ll play Free Bands, who defeated Triumph, 106-99, Sunday at 12:45 p.m.

The rest of Saturday’s results can be found here.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday
The Northeast Regional of the Basketball Tournament wraps up Sunday afternoon at Philadelphia University with four games on tap.

The winners of those games will face off against the advancing teams from other regions at the Super 17 in Chicago (July 23-25) with a shot for the finals at Fordham (Aug. 1-2) on the line.