BY KATHY HANSBERRY — As America celebrated Veterans Day, thousands of Hawai‘i’s military personnel, along with friends and families, swarmed the Stan Sheriff Center for the fifth annual ESPN ARMED FORCES CLASSIC, a men’s college basketball doubleheader featuring nationally ranked teams, Arizona vs. Michigan State and Kansas vs. Indiana.
As official hotel partner, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts was courtside for the event that provided basketball fans of both the military and the community an opportunity to see the action up close.
Televised on ESPN, the games were part of the network’s America’s Heroes initiative honoring the men and women who are serving and who have served in the United States military, both at home and abroad, and received record-breaking media coverage ratings.
ESPN’s Armed Forces earned its single-game, highest rating with No. 11 Indiana’s 103-99 overtime, upset-win against No. 3 Kansas on opening night of the college basketball season – averaging a 0.9 overnight rating. Video streaming also continues to grow at ESPN, evident with Friday night coverage of the Armed Forces Classic, more than doubling previous events. The Indiana-Kansas overtime win had an average minute audience of 48,000 viewers, up 220 percent year over year. The first game of the doubleheader, showcasing Arizona’s win over Michigan State, saw a 140 percent increase with an average minute audience of 36,000 viewers.
The Armed Forces Classic is owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN. The annual event is scheduled to continue for the foreseeable future with the 2017 event returning to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, featuring Texas A&M against West Virginia.
The action continued at 9 p.m. for the opening night of the annual OUTRIGGER RESORTS RAINBOW CLASSIC held Nov. 11, 13, and 14, which served as the season-opener for the Hawai‘i Rainbow Warrior men’s basketball team as they hosted visiting teams from Florida Atlantic, SIU Edwardsville and Texas State.
This exciting three-day tournament brought more than 16,000 fans to the stands, including 5,334 fans who fought sleep to support the ESPN nationally televised midnight game on Monday, Nov. 14, tipping-off at 11:15 p.m. Hawai‘i time.
As title sponsor, Outrigger volunteers were on-site each night to greet the fans with a giveaway, and to encourage participation in the ever-popular on-court promotion “Outrigger Shoot for Loot,” where two contestants compete for a chance to win up to $1,000 in cash.
Also, as Diamond Corporate Partner, Outrigger kicked up the fan experience with an autograph session with the team following Sunday night’s game. Hundreds of fans stood in long lines to have their favorite Warrior players sign the exclusive tournament poster courtesy of Outrigger.
A battle until the very last second, the Rainbow Warriors came on strong to win the match against Florida Atlantic, resulting in a three-way tie for the tournament title.
Hawai‘i finished the tournament with a 2-1 win, as did Texas State and SIU Edwardsville. Texas State, which defeated SIUE, 86-58, in the evening’s earlier action, claimed the tournament title by virtue of a tie-breaker (least total points allowed in the tournament).
Below is the Rainbow Warriors final score recap for all three days of the tourney:
- Nov. 11 – SIU Edwardsville (69), Hawai‘i (68)
- Nov. 13 – Hawai‘i (74), Texas State (68)
- Nov. 14 – Hawai‘i (64), Florida Atlantic (63)
Mahalo to our #teamOutrigger volunteers for making this year’s Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic a success: Aitogi Totemese, Ashelly Ijima, Alan White, Carl Hansberry, Chloe Jefferson, Christie Izutsu, Courtney Miyashiro, Daniel Guittu, Danny Wang, Darin Leong, Debbie White, Denise Shigeta, Devin Miquel, Dylan Nojima, Elijah Sambrano, Gay Shinbara, Gayle Isutzu, JoAnn Yonamine, Julia Engle, Juli Koo, Kady Pascual, Leighton Chang, Lianne Bryant, Lisa Asakura, Lorry Ijima-Sato, Nam Ngo, Patrick Ivan Concepcion, Nathan Ijima-Sato, Robert Wahinehookae, Scott Sato, Sean Ajimine, Selena Tong, Stacy Lee, Stephanie Nojima, Toni Icarangal, Valerie Jefferson, Valerie Lee and Victor Tong.
See you all at the next sporting event!