By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
The week before the Fourth of July, fraternal twins Robert and Alex donned their red, white and blue USA jerseys and played with pride, leading their StudentAthleteWorld 16-and-under team to eighth place in the boys basketball competition with a 4-3 overall record at the 2017 United World Games in Austria.
The opening ceremonies in Klagenfurt set the tone for a spirited week of competition in which athletes from more than 40 countries competed for medals at vennues throughout Germany, Italy and Austria.
Both brothers contributed mightily to their team’s success. Robert started, playing power forward and shooting guard. Alex played lockdown defense at the small forward position, racking up many rebounds and assists.
Team USA prevailed in both of its games against Italy, split two games with Austria, lost to a taller Mongolian team and lost to eventual gold medalist Serbia, 80-35. SAW defeated the Basket Flames 44-41; defeated the Spittal Lakers, 57-33; defeated Libertas Flume Veneto, 67-35 and also defeated Citta di Albignasego, 42-36.
Games consisted of four quarters, each eight minutes in length with a running clock until the last two minutes of the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the SAW Team USA 19-and-under boys basketball squad won the bronze medal and the 16-and-under girls basketball team captured the gold medal.
Coaching the 16Y boys was Brad Estes from Miami, Florida, who has coached AAU Division 1 & 2. He specializes in player development and has worked with the University of South Carolina men’s basketball staff.
Student-athletes were selected for the United World Games from a national pool baed on athletics, leadership and character.
The trip included not only international sports and competition, but also sightseeing and opportunities for personal growith and leadership development through international travel.
They may have played on the same team this time, but the 14-year-olds (they turn 15 in August) will attend different high schools in the fall.
Robert is headed to Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, while Alex will play for Harbard-Westlake in Studio City. Robert attended Pali Elementary for kindergarten and first grade, then went to Park Century School for second through eighth grade.
Alex, meanwhile, attended Pali Elementary from kindergarten through third grade, went to Curtis School from fourth through sixth grade and then transferred to Harvard-Westlake for seventh and eighth grade. They are lifelong Palisadians.
Both Robert and Alex began playing basketball at the Palisades Recreation Center gym when they were 6 and they have not stopped since.
Their coaches over the years have included Paul Davis (Palisades High and Pali Hoop Dreams), Bret Henry (UCLA) and Pierson Williams (Harvard-Westlake). They also attended Ben Howland’s Youth Basketball Camp for years as well as the Matt Barnes Camp, both at Pali High.