The first Fort Hood Autumn Basketball Classic may not be a regular season tournament for the Fort Hood Phantom Warriors men’s team, but don’t count on the squad to take this event likely.

Especially when the field includes seven different teams from different military installations coming to the Phantom Warriors’ home turf. Organizers plan to make the tournament an annual event.

“The games don’t count, but it’s the first tournament that Fort Hood has had at this level for about 10 to 15 years,” said Capt. Michael Meyers of the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and team’s head coach.

The Fort Hood Autumn Basketball Classic tips off on Friday and runs through Sunday. Teams include The Phantom Warriors, D1 Nation from Killeen, as well as teams from Fort Bliss, Fort Carson, Fort Sam Houston and three Air Force bases. The double-elimination format tournament takes place at both Abrams and West Fort Hood Physical Fitness Centers.

The Phantom Warriors are the defending National Military Varsity Champions and the tournament will be a part of their early October exhibition schedule.

“We really are looking to trying to get after it, we’re excited,” Meyers said.

The Phantom Warriors open the tournament against D1 Nation at 6 p.m. at Abrams and will be followed by Fort Bliss against Fort Sam Houston at 8 p.m. Saturday’s schedule features Lakeland Air Force Base against Fort Carson at 9 a.m. and Tinker Air Force Base against Cannon Air Force Base at 11 a.m.

The winners of those games remain in the winner’s bracket while the losers will go to the loser’s bracket where another defeat means elimination.

“We train our players so that they understand they have to win four games in a row to be champions,” Meyers said. “It’s a long haul, it’s a gauntlet, you’re going to play a lot of basketball over the course of two days so you’ve got to make sure you make your first games count. Every game is win or go home, whether you’re in the loser’s bracket or not.”

The remaining undefeated team in the winner’s bracket will play the team that gets out of the loser’s bracket at 3 p.m. Sunday at Abrams. If the team from the loser’s bracket wins that game, the teams will play again at 5:30 p.m. in a winner takes the tournament title game.

Contact Albert Alvarado at alvarado@kdhnews.com

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