For the Nashville Broncs, championship weekend has arrived.
The day before the NCAA basketball tournament begins, Nashville area junkies can get their hoop fixes started even earlier.
The Broncs (23-4) will host the eight-team American Basketball Association championships, which open with a four-game quarterfinal package today, beginning at 10 a.m., at Municipal Auditorium.
The Broncs play the final game of the day when they take on the New Jersey Express at 8:30 p.m. Semis are Thursday, finals Sunday.
It’s a basketball extravaganza this weekend. Following the semis Thursday, the ABA three-point and slam dunk competition will be held Sunday, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The All-Star game will follow at 3 p.m. The ABA championship game then arrives at 7.
“We’re coming in with some momentum after our last game Sunday when we scored a season-high 164 points,’’ said coach Jan van Breda Kolff, a former Vanderbilt All-American and later its head coach. The Broncs finished out a 15-1 home season with a 164-115 win over Atlanta.
“We’re leading the league in scoring (122 ppg), and we’ve played very well lately,’’ van Breda Kolff said. “In fact, we’ve scored less than 100 only twice and in once of those, we scored 98.
“There’s eight very good teams here. We haven’t played New Jersey this season, so we don’t know much about them,’’ he said.
“But it’s like what (former North Carolina coach) Dean Smith’s used to say, don’t worry about your opponent’s game, just worry about your own game.’’
The Kentucky Bisons, which are responsible for three of the Broncs’ four losses, is playing the Beijing Aoshen Olympic team in today’s opener at 10 a.m. Beijing handed the Broncs their only home loss last month.
“It’s a team based in LA, with some Chinese players on it, but mostly American players, as well, including Toby Bailey (former UCLA star),’’ he said. “And Southeast Texas is 22-1 and ranked No. 1 in the (ABA) power ratings.’’
The Broncs are ranked. No. 3.
Van Breda Kolff was very excited about the recent addition of former Texas A&M standout guard Eddie Smith.
“He’s one of the fastest players I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen anyone dribble the ball as fast as he does,’’ he said. “He’s become a really big part of our up-tempo offense.’’
The Broncs’ mainstays continue to be former Vanderbilt stars Ronnie McMahon and Mario Moore, former Whites Creek High star Desmond Cambridge and Curtis Lewis.
Van Breda Kolff said the Broncs had also added former Vol State and Indiana-Purdue Ft. Wayne standout Jaraun Burrows to the team.
The Broncs’ Cambridge and Lewis were chosen to the East All-Star team for the game Sunday at 3, with Marquis Patton an alternate. An MVP will be named after the game.
Today’s games (quarterfinals)
At Municipal Auditorium
10 a.m.—Chicago Steam vs. Maywood (Calif.) Buzz; 1:30 p.m. –Beihjing Olympian vs. Kentucky Bisons; 5 p.m.—SE Texas Mustangs vs. Knoxville Thunderbolts/Texas Fuel winner; 8:30 p.m.—Nashville Broncs vs. New Jersey Express.
Thursday’s games (semifinals)
4:30 p.m.—Winner gm 2 vs. Winner gm 3; 7:30 p.m.—Winner gm 1 vs. Winner gm 4.
12:30- 1:30—3-point shooting contest; 1:30-2:30 p.m.—Slam Dunk contest; 3 p.m.—ABA All-Star game. 5:30—All-Star MVP announcement; 5:45 p.m.—Autograph signings; 7 p.m.—Championship Game.
Quarterfinals games today: $47 general admission; $62 VIP; Three-day pass: $122 general admission; Sunday’s session: $22, general admission.
Call Broncs office: 823-1086.