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UNITED ON THE COURT: New Rochester basketball team plays first home game

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Rochester United coach Sam Kenyi talks to team before first home game

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Semi-pro basketball has returned to the Med City with a new team and a new look, yet with some familiar faces.

"Tamara Moore, a former WNBA player, started this league. I used to play for her," said Rochester United coach Sam Kenyi.

The league is the OBA. Rochester United is the new team. It replaces the Rochester Roadrunners, a former semi-pro team in the Med City.

After that door closed, Moore called on Kenyi to open another one.

"She knew I was in Rochester," he said. "There was an opportunity to start an organization here so I jumped on it. She called me to be a coach."

The team is made up of local guys, ex junior college and even D1 athletes. One of those is a former Austin High School standout.

"Sam hit me up and said 'Come hoop.' I said 'Say less.' I came and I've been enjoying my time a lot here," said Mark Manyuon. "I'm just glad to be back on the court."

Now he's playing at a semi pro level. While it may be competitive, it's still fun for the players.

"Practice for us like a playground. It's a light atmosphere and real fun," Manyuon said. "We just try to build, get better every day and represent Rochester."

Saturday's contest was Rochester United's second game of the season, the first at home. The coach and players promise an exciting brand of basketball all season.

"We take it serious," Kenyi said. "We're here to compete. We push the ball up and down. We get after it."

"First home game, I'm feeling great. Ready to put on a show," Manyuon said before tipoff.

He hopes for success in the team's first year in the league.

"The goal is Orlando. Orlando is the finals," said the ex RCTC and Winona State player. "That's the end goal, but we just take it day to day. That's where our success is going to come from."

Despite losing their first two games, the team knows that better days are just around the corner. For now, it's a great opportunity to keep basketball careers alive.

"Being able to provide an opportunity to play is rewarding," Kenyi said.

Rochester United's next game is at home a week from Sunday at Rochester Regional Stadium on the RCTC campus. The team will welcome TC Elite to the Med City in search of a first franchise win.

Alex Tejada

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