ANAHEIM, CA- The Bethesda Flames Men's basketball team is a new and improved team from last year. The 2019-20 Flames have five returners in Igli Pirgu, Jameel McGill, Rayford Rigby, Jose Gracian, and Gabe Lemon. The Flames have very talented players but are still working on getting better and creating unity and chemistry with each other. Head Coach, Leo Balayon, says "I like the team we have right now. We still need to be better in some areas but I like the attitude and personality of this team."
The team is still searching for its identity but they definitely have the ability to play lockdown defense and get to the paint with their athleticism. There are great athletes that can get above the rim like LeShawn Hamilton, Gabe Lemon, Jonathan Akharoh, and Alesandro Alberto. The Flames have a plethora of guards that get to the basket and knock down jump shots from the outside. Senior guard, Rayford Rigby, has been with the Flames since his freshman year and is looking forward to making a deep run with this year's team.
The Flames have what it takes to make a run for the National Championship, they just have to play as a team and stay focused to the task at hand. The season started off with a couple of rough starts against Life Pacific and Hope International. However, the Flames played great against Westmont College as they were down by 1 point in the last minutes of the game. Offensive Rebounds and missed defensive assignments are what loss the game for the Flames in the last couple of minutes. The Flames look to play against a tall and top 25 NAIA University of Antelope Valley team this weekend. However, the Flames believe that they can come out on top if they win and stick to their game plan.
The Men's Basketball Team goes on the road in November as they play an exhibition game against NCAA Division I Southern Utah University followed by a rematch against Hope International, whom the Flames believe they'll play a lot better against this second time. The Flames will then travel to play against Master's and Occidental. Then the team will have it's second game against Life Pacific. Right before the Thanksgiving break, the Flames will host SAGU at West Coast Baptist and then finish the month at Occidental and Vanguard.
The Flames will go on the road against some far opponents in December as they travel to play UC Merced on December 6. The team will then play some local games against Pomona Pitzer and NCAA Division II Cal State Los Angeles. The Flames will then travel to NCAA Division I Weber State in Utah whom were picked to finish second in the Big Sky in a medial poll. The Flames will then host their second home game of the season against Northwestern College of Iowa on December 20. Following a Christmas break, the Flames will finish the month out against Chapman on December 28 and Redlands on New Years Day.
The Flames will then begin conference play as they host Portland Bible College in back to back games at West Coast Baptist. The Flames will then break up their conference play with an exhibition against NCAA Division I Cal Baptist and an away game against UC Santa Cruz at the beautiful Kaiser Permanente Arena, home of the Santa Cruz Warriors. The Flames will finish the month against West Coast Baptist and St. Katherine.
In February, the Flames will face St. Katherine again and then a back to back game against conference opponent, New Hope Christian. The Flames will travel to Lancaster to face West Coast Baptist. Then they will travel to Portland Oregon to play against Portland Bible College and New Hope Christian for the final games of the regular season. The team will stay in Portland to compete in the Pacific Christian Athletic Conference on February 21 and 22.
The Flames are aiming high to make it to the Nationals and make a deep playoff run! Follow the Flames here.