Lightning claims International title
O’Neil, Ayer provide summertime spark
It was quite a summer for the Los Angeles Lightning.
The pro basketball team took second in the prestigious Southern Cal Pro Summer League, then captured the championship of the ETE International Tournament last weekend in Garden Grove.
The Lightning had to beat the host team, Elite Talent Exchange of China, in the semifinals and final. In Saturday’s semifinal, L.A. overcame a 20-point second-quarter deficit to win by 14. On Sunday, they shot 59 percent to claim the Crystal Trophy in a tourney that included teams from China, Mexico, the Philippines and the U.S.
Derrick O’Neil, a 6-5 point guard who played for the Bakersfield Jam in the NBA D-League, hit 12-17 shots and led the Lightning with 28 points. Forward Javaughn Espritt added 25 points (on 10-12 shooting) and five rebounds while 6-11 center Chris Ayer had 22 points and 10 boards.
Tarron Williams, who scored 20 a few days earlier, added 16 points and six rebounds in the championship game.
Earlier in the tourney, Ayer had 25 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks in a win over Soles de Mexicali. Former NBA star Lamond Murray played the first two games for the Lightning, whose summertime roster included ex-NBA players Tyus Edney (UCLA) and Juaquin Hawkins.
“It felt great to reach the championship game of the Pro Summer League in our second season in that league,” said Lightning owner Mark Harwell. “We lost by two points in overtime in the final and it was a real slugfest.
“Winning the ETE title was the icing on our summer cake. It‘s been great watching our veterans pass the torch of knowledge to the younger guys and seeing them develop.”