'Nova alums Redding, Pena team to win Pro-Am

'Nova alums Redding, Pena team to win Pro-Am
August 5, 2013, 10:00 am
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Former Villanova Wildcats Reggie Redding (front, in white) and Antonio Pena (back, in white) dropped 24 and 25 points, respectively, to lead their team to their second Delco Pro-Am title in three years. (Mark Jordan)

HAVERFORD, Pa. – Before Sunday’s Delco Pro-Am championship game began, Villanova alum Reggie Redding had a little chat with Saint Joseph’s rising freshman DeAndre Bembry.

That’s when the former Big 5 player schooled the future Big 5 player on the meaning of city rivalries.

“He was saying it’s not even that serious,” Redding said. “I’m like, ‘You’re going to be a freshman next year?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ Then I said, ‘You don’t understand yet.’ That’s what I told him. It’s all good fun, but it’s still competition. And it’s even more when you’re playing against guys from the Big 5 that you know.”

The summer-league title game certainly had a little extra juice to it, considering a team made up of mostly Villanova alums (Omega Medical) took on a team made up of players with mostly St. Joe’s connections (Radano & Associates).

And in what could be billed as the summer version of the Holy War, it was Redding and the ’Nova team that cruised to a 91-72 victory at Haverford College, capturing their second Delco title in the last three years.

“It’s cool because the league had a lot of good players this summer,” said Redding, who played for Villanova from 2006-2010. “We beat some old Big 5 rivals in the playoffs. It’s always good to be able to get good competition in the summertime – and it’s even better when you come out with the win.”

Redding finished with 24 points for Omega Medical, while 2011 ’Nova grad Antonio Pena poured in a game-high 25 points to snag MVP honors.

In the semifinals on Saturday, fifth-seeded Omega upset top-seeded Temple Under Armour in overtime, 93-86, with Pena and Redding combining for 60 points.

Pena and Redding also led the way during Omega’s Delco championship run two years ago, with Pena being named MVP in that title game too.

“I love to play with him,” Pena said, referring to Redding. “He’s so much better than a lot of people think.”

Redding certainly showed off his skills Sunday, getting into the lane with ease to score 15 points in the second half and help Omega easily pull away for the title. Redding and Omega also picked it up on the other end, holding Radano without a field goal for nearly the first 15 minutes of the second half after leading by just one point at the break.

“We just realized we had to pick up our defense,” Pena said. “The only way they were really scoring was from little errors we were making.”

With the way Sunday’s title game started, it would be hard to envision Radano losing by 19 points.

Led by the lights-out shooting of rising St. Joe’s senior Langston Galloway, Radano jumped out to an early 20-6 lead and still held a comfortable 30-20 lead midway through the first half, before Omega began to take control of the game.

Galloway made five baskets, including three three-pointers, in the first four-and-a-half minutes and finished with a team-high 23 points. Temple alum Ryan Brooks added 16 points for Radano, while St. Joe’s alums Garrett Williamson (11 points) and C.J. Aiken (10 points) also hit double figures. Galloway’s classmate, Halil Kanacevic, had seven points and Bembry rounded out the scoring with five.

“I honestly didn’t know he could shoot it that well,” Pena said of Galloway. “He’s a good player. We had to step up and realized we had to guard him.”

On top of the big nights from Pena and Redding, 2009 Villanova grad Shane Clark chipped in with 17 points and rising ’Nova senior James Bell had 10 for Omega. Former University of Virginia star Sean Singletary had seven points – but in a sign of how heated even summer leagues can get, he was tossed out of the game midway through the second half after a brush-up with Galloway.

“I don’t even know what happened, but I’m sure it wasn’t that crazy,” Redding said. “Singletary is not even that kind of person. He was never a cheap-shot guy.”

Of course, Sunday’s game wasn’t about fighting or ejections; it was more about the rivalries and friendships that bond Big 5 players.

In a few days, Redding will head to Germany, where he plays professionally, and Pena will look to return to Spain. But before their summers in Philly ended, they were happy to team up and win another title while rekindling memories of their college basketball careers at Villanova.

“We played together four years at ’Nova, we've lived together every summer since then, we work out every day all summer,” Redding said. “We maintain that friendship even when we’re away. We talk every day. It’s cool, man. He became like family to me, ever since I stepped on campus at Villanova.

“It’s always good to have a guy like that behind you and supporting you. And it’s the same way with me for him.”