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First week of Pittsburgh Basketball Club's Pro-Am League play in books

Michael Love
| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Basketball Club's Pro-Am League has a reputation of high-flying basketball in front of jazzed-up crowds, and the opening games last week lived up to that billing.

Through two dates of games at the Greentree Sportsplex, PGT Trucking was 2-0, and that was music to the ears of team members and Gateway graduates Mike Kromka, Luke Kochka and Barnett Harris.

South Hills Audi — featuring Plum graduates and brothers Nolan and Drew Cressler — got off to a tough start with a nine-point loss on night two.

PGT Trucking, behind 28 points and 17 rebounds from Pitt's Talib Zanna and 27 points and seven assists from Panthers rising sophomore James Robinson, defeated Oliverio's Peppers, 76-72.

Pitt redshirt freshman Chris Jones led Oliverio's Peppers with 24 points.

Robinson played in the June 24 game and then got a surprise call the next day.

He was off to the Czech Republic to compete at the World Basketball Championships as a member of Team USA's U19 squad.

Robinson tried out for the U19 team in Colorado Springs, and initially, he wasn't one of the 12 players selected for the team.

But he was added to the squad on June 25 when Syracuse's Jerami Grant had to pull out of the tournament because of illness.

The FIBA U19 World Championships feature 16 national teams from around the world.

Robinson averaged 13.5 minutes, 3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists in Team USA's first three games.

The USA opened the tournament by beating the Ivory Coast, 88-29; China, 113-57; and Russia, 115-47.

Without Robinson, PGT rolled to a 97-87 victory over UPMC on June 26.

Zanna had 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Robert Morris' Dave Appolon and Elijah Thompson added 22 and 21 points, respectively.

South Fayette graduate Mike Lamberti, a rising redshirt sophomore on the West Liberty State men's basketball team, is a member of the UPMC squad. The 6-5 forward, the top scorer in the history of South Fayette boys basketball, is the son of Gateway graduate Vince Lamberti.

South Hills Audi fell, 110-91, to Oliverio's Peppers on June 26, and Nolan Cressler, a rising sophomore on the Cornell men's basketball team, scored 21 points.

Former Pitt player Chevy Troutman led South Hills Audi with 29 points.

PGT Trucking and South Hills Audi were scheduled to face each other Monday night, and the 9 p.m. scheduled start was past the deadline for this week's edition.

It was the first time Kromka, Kochka, Harris and the Cressler brothers were to share the same court since Feb. 15, 2010, when Plum defeated Gateway, 40-39.

Kromka and Drew Cressler were seniors that year, while Kochka, Harris and Nolan Cressler were sophomores.

Plum and Gateway finished tied for the Section 2-AAAA championship that season with 10-2 records.

The Mustangs suffered a 42-40 heartbreaker to Latrobe in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs, while the Gators finished runner-up to Mt. Lebanon in WPIAL Quad-A and qualified for the PIAA tournament.

There were no Pro-Am League games on Wednesday because of the July 4 holiday. Games will resume Monday at Greentree Sportsplex.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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