- Ben Hall
Defeat Diabetes using TBT platform to raise awareness to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes
On July 16, The Basketball Tournament is set to start. TBT is the $1+ million, winner-take-all tournament that consists of professional basketball players who are not currently in the NBA. For the first time ever, Defeat Diabetes will have a team participating and they will be in the Xavier Regional which is played at Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The JDRF is sponsoring the Defeat Diabetes team and a portion of the winning proceed will be donated to their foundation. While we have seen numerous teams supporting various foundations like Sideline Cancer, Americana for Autism, Mental Toughness, Team Challenge ALS, and many more, this will be the first team representing a Type 1 Diabetes foundation.
Co-founders of the Defeat Diabetes team Jalen Nesbitt and Cristina Desemone came up with the idea of entering the Defeat Diabetes team into The Basketball Tournament. Jalen is a 7-year professional basketball player in Europe who has participated in and followed the TBT for years. After meeting Cristina, who has been living with Type 1 Diabetes since 2006, the couple believed they could do more to advocate for those with diabetes. That is how Defeat Diabetes was started. With Jalen's knowledge and passion for the game of basketball and Cristina's history managing her Type 1 Diabetes, a goal was developed to put together a team that would benefit in finding a cure.
"We love that question because our vision for Defeat Diabetes is bigger than the TBT, where this will become a year round advocate and support within the T1D community," Desemone said when asked what their goal for Defeat Diabetes was aside from winning TBT. "The TBT is an incredible platform to be able to begin spreading our word about who we are, so as we gain supporters around the Defeat Diabetes name in the TBT, we want to take that momentum further, because like T1D, it never stops."
The current roster includes Jalen Nesbitt (North Florida), Arthur Edwards (Alabama), Brevin Pritzl (Wisconsin), Cameron Forte (Georgia & Portland State), Demonte Flannigan (Cleveland State), Emmanuel Wembi (Lenoir-Rhyne), Gary Forbes (Virginia & Massachusetts), Donovan Donaldson (Tusculum), JJ Frazier (Georgia), and Zac Seljaas (BYU).
"Jalen Nesbitt, the cofounder, did all the recruiting which was incredible to watch because it was not easy but he loves it," Desemone said. "He reached out to numerous athletes that would fit in our squad and from a couple of our recruits, we had guys reach out to us asking to join our team."
Defeat Diabetes will be coached by Matt Jones who is currently a professional coach and previously was a Prep Program Director & National Team Head Coach at Combine Academy. He also has coaching experience collegiately in Division II, Division III, and Junior College.
“As someone who has coached pro basketball overseas, I know sometimes players abroad do not get the respect they deserve," head coach Matt Jones said. "The TBT is an awesome platform to show fans just how good basketball is abroad and how good these players who take their talents there really are. To be a small part of one of the best new basketball traditions to come along is also an awesome honor."
"Coaching the Defeat Diabetes team is uniquely special because of all the people who live with or are impacted with Type 1 Diabetes. Sports has a way of uniting people. I hope our team can be something that brings this community of people together. We are playing for something bigger than just our group of players of the roster!”
In the bracket, Defeat Diabetes is the No. 7 seed in their region. They will take on No. 2 seed Sideline Cancer in the first round. The winner of that game will face the winner of No. 6 Sweet Home Alabama and No. 3 Zip Em Up. To win the region, Defeat Diabetes will need to win three games.
You can help support Defeat Diabetes at this link here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/6r66y-defeat-diabetes-tbt