On February 21, the 8th Annual Miracle Games drew around 200 people to Palmetto Senior High School to raise money for the Transplant Foundation. Run annually by Pinecrest teens (founded by Jordan Rose in 2007), this three-on-three basketball tournament has grown larger and more successful each year.
This year, due to a chance recent meeting of some involved parents, the separate “3s for Z” 3-point shot competition joined forces with the Miracle Games. And, it was three Palmetto students [L to R, below] Jayden Hardaway, Matt Hellinger and Jonathan Roth and who spearheaded this year’s event, as they have three years running.
With all those threes associated with the Miracle Games, it’s clear that three truly is a magic number.
As background, the “3s for Z” 3-point shot competition is in honor of Alexander Standiford. Standiford was known as “Zander,” or “Z,” wore jersey No. 33 as a Palmetto High basketball player and had a great three-point shot.
“Z” was a close friend and Palmetto varsity basketball teammate of Tim Hardaway Jr., now with the New York Knicks. In 2009, when both went off to college, “Z” died suddenly, never able to see his buddy play in what ultimately became the national spotlight. Ever since then, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been paying tribute to his friend by writing “RIP Z33” on his left shoe.
It is with love and humanity like that that the Miracle Games filled the gymnasium and outdoor courts with tons of kids all playing their basketball hearts out. So much so that they had to expand the brackets.
One of “Z”s friends, Filipe Emura, summed it up, “We’re here to support Zander’s family, the Panther family and to be good sports. It’s important to be helping people in need.”
When it was all wrapped up, more than $5000 was raised, more than doubling prior efforts. Among the prizes were "Penny" Hardaway and Tim Hardaway Jr. signed basketballs and shoes.
The 3-on-3 winning team was London Duran, Frankie Pubchara and Jorge Pubchara with runner-ups Jovan Guerrero, Hector Villagra and Gabriel Pena.
The “3's for Z” male winner was Tavian Percy and female winner was Jenna Kaplan.
But truly the biggest winner was the community. “We are blessed to have such a great place to live. We’re proud to have done some good,” explained Roth, Hellinger and Hardaway.
If you'd like to contribute to this worthy cause and support the community, please head to www.miraclegamesand3sforz.com.