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Slam dunk! Sunset Hoops Summer Season Starts in Leif Ericson Park • Brooklyn Paper

Slam dunk! Sunset Hoops Summer Season Starts in Leif Ericson Park

Kings of the court: The Sunset Hoops youth basketball program kicked off for the 10th year on June 9.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Most of the borough’s kids dream of one day putting on a Brooklyn Nets jersey.

For many, that dream came true on Saturday, sort of.

More than 120 kids in the Sunset Hoops youth basketball league hit the courts in Leif Ericson Park on June 8, opening up the summer season with an assist from the borough’s professional team.

A grant from the Barclays Center hoopsters provided the kids with new shirts adorned with the team logo — and gave them a new enthusiasm for the game, said league founder and director Joe Cucco.

“Just using that name is great for us,” said Cucco. “It’s a real big thing for the kids, and it gets a lot more of them interested in playing.”

Lay-up: Ethan Tlatelpa of Borough Park goes in for a two-point shot on June 9, the first day of the Sunset Hoops basketball program in Leif Ericson Park.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

The Sunset Park native founded the 17-team league a decade ago with friend Gerard Bell — co-owner of Skinflints restaurant on Fifth Avenue — to help 13- to 19-year-old youths during their difficult adolescent years.

“They’re either coming from a one parent household, or they’re having trouble at school, or they don’t have a place in their society of teenagers,” said Cucco. “They come to us and we teach them to play ball, but we also give them a little bit of advice.

Cucco said that the program kept the kids away from drugs and alcohol during the listless summer months.

“You can’t do that stuff while you’re playing ball. You have to stay on the straight and narrow,” said Cucco. “It keeps them focused on living right, instead of going the other way.”

Ballin’: Nick Diaz of Park Slope struggles to get a shot off.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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