All roads lead back to Fraser: Eberlein Drive returns for TBT 2018

 

By: Josh Brown | @josh_brown31


After playing as The Stickmen last summer, Eberlein Drive is making its triumphant return

When The Stickmen defeated Air Force Bomb Squad in the first round of the TBT 2017 West Regional, it was a bittersweet feeling for booster Jacob Hirschmann.

The product of a small cul-de-sac about a half-hour north of Detroit in Fraser, Michigan, Hirschmann had just accomplished something that had previously seemed impossible. Just three years prior, Hirschmann and a group of hometown buddies got blown out by Smush Parker and Big Apple Basketball in the first round of the inaugural tournament. They played under the name Eberlein Drive, a tribute to the street that serves as a gatekeeper for so many of their childhood memories. After suffering similar first-round exits the next two summers, albeit with a much-improved roster, Hirschmann had just gotten his first-ever TBT win.

With that being said, as good as it felt, the name on the bracket read “The Stickmen” and not “Eberlein Drive.” It just simply was not the same.

“Obviously doing The Stickmen was awesome and we had our best team we ever had,” said Hirschmann, a law school student at the University of Miami, “but it was a little bittersweet not getting Eberlein on there.”

Although Hirschmann and GM Matt Mitchell quickly turned an Eberlein Drive team that was dubbed “the lost cause of The Basketball Tournament” in 2014 into a competitive squad filled with former NBA players and overseas stars, they decided to go a different route in TBT 2017.

 Never afraid to try something new (the team won a Draft Kings sponsorship in 2015 and gained entry into TBT 2016 by raising the most money for charity), the Eberlein boys decided to team up with actor Michael Rapaport and play under his world-famous Stickmen brand.

REGISTER HERE TO SUPPORT EBERLEIN DRIVE

It ended up paying off. Although the team lost to juggernaut Team Challenge ALS in the second round, they trotted out a squad that was universally regarded as one of the most talented in the TBT field.

Still, Hirschmann felt a bit of a void.

“I’d say a little part of me wishes we had stuck with Eberlein,” said Hirschman. “Having the feeling of winning a tournament game and having a chance to get to the Super 16 was awesome. I think it would have felt even better if it was Eberlein going up on that bracket.”

On Tuesday, the team announced that they will attempt to do just that. After Hirschmann and Mitchell spent some time weighing their options for TBT 2018, it became increasingly obvious that returning to their Eberlein roots was the way to go.

 

“Coming into this year, the fifth year of TBT, Matt Mitchell and myself were obviously still going to be a part of it,” said Hirschmann, “but we didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do. We thought about going back to The Stickmen, we thought about a couple other people we could have teamed up with, but at the end of the day we just both love Eberlein Drive.”

In addition to carrying on the Eberlein Drive legacy, a little bit of TBT history also factored into Hirschmann’s decision. An avid fan of TBT, Hirschmann takes great pride in the fact that his team is just one of a handful remaining from the inaugural tournament in 2014 to still regularly compete.

“Obviously we haven’t had the most successful run in terms of wins,” added Hirschmann, “but winning the whole thing, as great as that would be, has never been what TBT is about for Matt and I. Every single year, as much as we’d want to win and would love to win, it’s more about the experience for us.”

“Being one of the original TBT teams is super, super cool. We still think that’s…super important because it’s very hard to get into this tournament. Every single year it’s an uphill battle.”

As for TBT 2018, Hirschmann expects a mix of returning players and new additions on the roster. One name that the team has already announced is nine-year NBA veteran Lou Amundson. The 6-foot-9 forward/center scored 27 points for The Stickmen in its win over Air Force Bomb Squad last summer. If previous years are any indication, the rest of the roster will similarly be loaded with some of the best talent the basketball world has to offer.

 

“Our team is going to be the best it has been yet,” said Hirschmann. “We have gone from me and my buddies playing to having several former NBA players on the roster. It’s going to be no different this year.”

“We’re going to get a win this year, at least one.”