WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 16, 2010) -- The 2010 Armed Forces Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament kicked off with an opening ceremony Aug. 16 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

The joint base serves as the official host installation for this year's tournament. Senior Department of Defense military officials attended the event to show support for their specific branch of service.

"We're very, very proud of them," said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston of Soldiers playing in the tournament. "We're proud of their selection to come here and compete in the all-services tournament."

Division I basketball officials from the Big Sky conference and other fans applauded the competitors in this year's tournament as they passed by the reviewing stand at the start of the ceremony.

In preparation for the tournament, players underwent several weeks of intense practice. They also competed against semi-professional teams in preparation for the championship.

The overall focus of the tournament, said Lt. Gen. William J. Troy, director for the Army staff, is for players to have a good time and represent their fellow servicemembers as disciplined, hard workers.

"When a team has their service name on a jersey, it represents that whole service and everybody out there in the fight," Troy said. "If they can come here, play hard and make friends and represent their services well, then that is something to be proud of."

The tournament runs through Aug. 22 and culminates with a championship game. An awards ceremony will follow, officially ending the seven-day event.

At the end of the competition, an all-services team will be configured from the outstanding player statistics. The U.S. Military Joint Basketball men's and women's teams will go on to compete in the world's service basketball tournament in September, which will be held in Seoul, South Korea.

Troy said tournament is unique, in that it is one place where it is appropriate for members of different services to work against each other instead of working together.

"The only place competition between the services is appropriate is on the court or the field," Troy said. "Everywhere else, we're all one team."

The games are officiated according to National Collegiate Athletic Association rules.

(Andre' Butler and LaTrina Antoine write for the Pentagram newspaper. Mr Butler serves as the editor.)