Hawaii men’s basketball: Tip-Off fills the house again

Former Hawaii basketball coaches Bob Nash and Riley Wallace joined current coach Eran Ganot, middle, at this year's Tip-Off banquet. / Photo by Dave Reardon

Former head coaches Riley Wallace and Bob Nash were among the more than 500 people who attended the University of Hawaii men’s basketball Tip-Off fundraiser at the Stan Sheriff Center on Thursday.

The event also celebrated the program’s upcoming 100th season. It starts Nov. 8 against Florida A&M. Before that, UH has an exhibition against Chaminade next Wednesday. UH, which went 18-13 last season, has a nonconference schedule including road games at Oregon and Illinois and possible Diamond Head Classic games against Georgia Tech and Washington prior to the start of Big West play.

The Tip-Off event, which debuted in 2016 prior to Eran Ganot’s second year as head coach, has sold out all four years. Trip packages to NBA and UH games and dinners at MW Restaurant and Murphy’s Bar & Grill and other items were auctioned; proceeds go toward players’ summer school tuition ($27,000), training table ($27,000) and cost-of-attendance stipends ($32,123).

Former UH players who are now assistant coaches, Phil Handy (Los Angeles Lakers) and Mark Campbell (Oregon women), appeared via video messages to introduce auction items.

Last year’s event raised $150,000.

“I’ll put it up against any similar event in the country,” Ganot said. “If we want to be a big-time program, we’ve got to act like a big-time program. We’re headed in the right direction. … We’ve got lots of other former players coming back and special surprises as the program’s 100th season progresses.”

The Tip-Off banquet was replete with an auction. / Photo by Dave Reardon

There was a moment of silence for the family of junior point guard Drew Buggs. Buggs was not at the event due to the death of his mother, Mary Buggs, in California.

Rainbows past and present sat at sponsors’ tables. Other former players in attendance were David “Kawika” Hallums, Mike Thomas, Nerijus Puida, Kalia McGee and Nash.

Hallums and emcee Kanoa Leahey took turns good-naturedly grilling players.

Here’s some of what was learned:

>> Even though he has slimmed down considerably, forward Zigmars Raimo still plans to be the team enforcer if an opponent goes after a smaller teammate.

“If someone pushes Eddie (Stansberry), I’m going to be the security guard,” he said, using the starting shooting guard sitting next to him as an example.

Stansberry: “I’m pretty physical myself.”

Also, Raimo now apparently has the team’s record in the squat, lifting 435 pounds.

“Allegedly you did 435,” said Hallums, who claims to have previously held the record of “433.”

>> Sophomore center Dawson Carper, who is from Colorado, likes Hawaii so much that he says, “I have two homes now.”

>> Wallace, the winningest coach in program history, turns 78 today (Friday, Oct. 25). He looks well and said he feels well.

>> Freshman guard Justin Webster, who has a lot of family from New Orleans, makes a mean jambalaya.

>> Predrag Savovic was apparently the oldest player to ever suit up for UH, or any Division I team. “Savo was about 45 years old at the time,” said his teammate Puida, who also noted that the ‘Bows at the turn of the millennium were from all over the world. “We had seven guys who couldn’t speak English.”

Players Bernardo da Silva, Justin Webster and Kameron Ng got grilled on stage next to new assistant coach Chris Gerlufsen. / Photo by Dave Reardon

>> Sidney Hamada chaired the committee tasked with putting on the event.

“He does everything,” Ganot said. “He’s a legend.”

>> The fathers of freshman guards Jessiya Villa (Kahi) and Kameron Ng (Kekoa), were teammates on the 1992 Kamehameha state championship team.

>> Nash won a coach of the year award in Japan recently. Also, while he was a UH coach, Nash went undefeated in one-on-one against UH players. Hallums said this, but I believe it anyway.

>> Freshman Bernardo da Silva said women in Hawaii are better-looking than those in his homeland of Brazil. He is 6 feet 9 and has a 7-foot-2 wingspan. He also has a winning attitude: “If I need to shoot the ball, I’ll shoot the ball. If I need to dive on the floor, I’ll dive on the floor.”

>> Junior wing Samuta Avea, who is 6 feet 6, has a “mini-me”: the 5-foot-11 Ng.

>> It was no surprise that the line of the night came from Hallums, whom Nash said missed his calling and should have been a comedian instead of a police officer. “Time to plant some evidence,” Hallums replied, after one of his many verbal sparring partners of the evening landed a solid shot.

Former players Nerijus Puida, Bob Nash, Kalia McGee and Mike Thomas got their turn on stage. / Photo by Dave Reardon


  1. Loca1boi October 25, 2019 1:01 am

    Whoever ran this event should’ve taken PR or marketing 101. How, of all the panels to put on stage, do you not put ALL FOUR local kids up the for a Q&A??? What, because that happens every year? I mean two of those guys are on schollie and were hs teammates on a state championship team how do u not run with that narrative? A ton of missed opportunities tonight that should have been no brainers.

  2. James Manuel October 25, 2019 1:51 pm

    Yeah I was kind of disappointed the other 2 local kids weren’t given time on the panels. They kind of spent too much time harping on one guy if you ask me.

  3. akuhead2 October 25, 2019 6:47 pm

    Great event !
    Great coverage !
    Mahalo !!

Comments are closed.