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Tip-Off event a success again in Year 3

Though still a “toddler” in age, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team’s annual “Tip-Off Event” has already grown into a noteworthy rival to UH football’s Pigskin Pigout and the baseball team’s “Grand Slam.”

And Warriors coach Eran Ganot is expecting an even brighter future, saying plans for the 2019 Tip-Off have already begun in conjunction with celebrating the program’s 100th anniversary.

“It’s absolutely going to be a staple, it’s incredible,” Ganot said last Thursday night, moments after the third annual gala wound down. “This is a national (caliber) tipoff event, up there with the best in the country, and we’re only in Year 3. It’s gotten bigger and better every year, I’m so thankful for the people who work behind the scenes to make this happen — Sydney (Hamada) has been the leader of the Tip-Off committee, and it’s just grown to new heights. And we’ve talked about the people here in this arena, with Rich (Sheriff), and Marc Nakamoto with Sodexo, and then all of a sudden a vote of confidence with Hawaiian Airlines and Bank of Hawai’i stepping up and jumping all in (as corporate sponsors) …”

As with the previous two years, the fundraising event featured a cocktail hour and silent auction, followed by a hearty buffet dinner. That was followed by player and coach interviews conducted on stage by Spectrum Sports commentator Scott Robbs and former UH point guards Johnny White and Kawika Hallums. Radio play-by-play man Bobby Curran then conducted a live auction featuring items like Final Four tickets, and then wrapped things up with a call for donations starting at $1,000 down to $100 per person.

Funds raised helped to benefit the Coach’s Fund that provides for players’ health and nutrition, education and recruitment and retention.

“It’s about the student-athletes and continuing to grow our program,” Ganot said. “It’s probably my favorite day of the year — I love Game Day, but you don’t get to interact, you’re kind of locked in on the game. The opportunity to spend time with our great supporters, the people here, to say thanks is really special in this kind of environment. It’s a first class event.”

As a new added bonus, Hawaiian Airlines and Bank of Hawai’i agreed to be co-sponsors.

“In terms of co-sponsoring this event, (Hawaiian Airlines CEO) Peter Ingram and (Bank of Hawai’i Chairman) Peter Ho, they’re the leaders of their teams,” Ganot said. “Peter Ingram was here and is a great basketball fan, and I know Peter Ho would have loved to have been here, but he had a prior engagement. Those guys are very active in trying to make things better, not just for our program, but for UH, for athletics, for the state. I can’t begin to thank them enough for what they do for us, it’s noticeable, it’s made significant improvements in the experience for our student athletes.”

Ganot said he is more than pleased at how quickly the Tipoff Event has grown from the idea stage just three years ago.

“There’s a lot of really good Tipoff events out there, (but) I’d put ours up there with anybody’s,” Ganot said. “It’s something we needed to do, something we believed in and thought would go well, but it’s probably exceeded expectations to be where it’s at this quick. It was supposed to be baby steps to get there, and I think it’s already one of the best events in the country, so can you imagine how it’ll be in Year 4 when it coincides with our 100th year as a program.”

(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

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