Ty Daubert (@TyDaubert)
OLNEY — Team F.O.E promised a surprise for Monday night’s 17th annual Danny Rumph Classic championship game. And, boy, did it ever deliver.
After hinting at some possible reinforcement on Sunday, Family Over Everything added a hometown favorite to play in the final of the five-day charity pro-am tournament. Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey, one of the premier breakout talents in the 2021-2022 NBA season, and teammate Isaiah Joe suited up alongside veteran forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris and the rest of the talented F.O.E. squad.
Tyrese Maxey, left, drives on Tim Quarterman. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)
Maxey scored a game-high 34 points as F.O.E downed Blue Magic 117-111 to take the Rumph Classic title in front of a packed Tom Gola Arena at La Salle University. The rising star’s 18-point second-quarter outburst invigorated the Philadelphia crowd while helping his team build the substantial lead it needed to hold off a late Blue Magic effort.
“I’m happy he got to play, man,” said F.O.E. point guard Vinny Simpson, who had the chance to share the backcourt with Maxey. “He’s the new face of Philly, as far as Philadelphia basketball. He’s up and coming, and he’ll hopefully be our next big star here. And for him to come out here, it’s all love and respect to him.”
Maxey took in action as a spectator on the first night of the Rumph Classic last Thursday and whispers spread he might make an appearance later on in the tournament. A cryptic tweet on Monday morning suggested he was ready to suit up for the championship game, which was confirmed when he walked into Tom Gola Arena with Joe holding a pair of sneakers.
“Nah tonight was lit!!! Had fun.. stayed healthy! Preciate y’all letting me hoop! @RumphClassic THE CITY WAS OUT!,” Maxey tweeted after the game.
Following a slow start, Maxey stole the show in the game’s second period, ripping off 15 straight points for F.O.E. Blue Magic tried to throw the former Kentucky standout off his rhythm by having 14-year pro Tywain McKee face guard him from all spots on the floor, but that only served to frustrate the defense even further as Maxey continued to bury deep 3-pointers, draw fouls and get to the basket with ease and eventually sent McKee heading to the exits prematurely.
“He got hot,” Simpson said. “He’s just nice. He played really well for us, and that was good for the city to see.”
Marcus Morris did the early damage for F.O.E before Maxey took over, with 24 of his 29 points coming in the first half. Joe then followed his Sixers teammate’s stretch with his own personal 7-0 run, hitting a dunk, a layup and a 3-pointer near the end of the second as F.O.E built a 68-47 lead at halftime.
“It was great, man,” Joe said. “Just being able to come out here with these guys and this Philly crowd. The energy was amazing, and the love here was beyond measure. I’m looking forward to doing this more in the future.”
Tyrese Maxey shrugs as he walks down the court during Monday's Rumph Classic Championship. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)
Joe, a 2020 second-round pick, scored 16 points for F.O.E., bringing his smooth jumper to La Salle’s campus. Joe said he was glad to find success alongside Maxey while playing in their first Rumph together. A highlight of the game was Maxey tossing a crosscourt pass to Joe for a wide open triple.
“It’s fun, just to be out here with my brother,” Joe said. “Just doing what we love each and every day, playing the game of basketball and putting it on for the city. It’s all entertainment at the end of the day, and we’re just here to show a good time.”
Isaiah Joe goes up for a transition dunk. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)
Despite trailing big at halftime, Blue Magic clawed back in the second half to make things interesting down the stretch. Former Imhotep guard Brandon Austin scored the ball all night, leading the team with 29 points. Forward Scootie Randall, a former standout at Temple who has played professionally in Japan since 2013, added 22, while nailing a big triple and two layups at the end of the third to cut the deficit down to eight.
Former tournament MVP Mike Cuffee, who has played in all 17 Rumph Classics, got hot in the third period to help chip away at the lead as well.
“They’re pros,” Simpson, a former Hampton guard, said of the Blue Magic players. “Just because they’re not NBA players, they’re still pros. Those guys can play, and they’re going to fight. That’s what Philadelphia basketball is about: No matter what the level is, they compete.”
Leading 94-86 entering the fourth, F.O.E.’s star-studded lineup managed to take the punch and complete the victory, winning the fourth Rumph Classic championship for the Morris brothers. Marcus was named the MVP of this year’s tournament, his second after sharing the honor with Markieff once before.
“They mean everything to the city,” Simpson said of the twins. “They’ve held it down for 10 years. They’re the faces of Philadelphia basketball in the NBA right now. They come back to the city, they give back to the city and they show love.”
Staples of the Rumph, the Morris twins brought the star power and the excitement to Philly. And with the championship now secured, there’s one question looming for Team F.O.E: Who’s stopping by next year to defend the title?
“The Tyrese Maxey thing, everybody’s going to be talking about that for a while,” Simpson said. “Let’s see what we can do for next year, get a bigger surprise. Hopefully, we can get somebody else to come out.”
F.O.E.'s Vinny Simpson shoots a three in the corner as the crowd reacts. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)