As his teammates sat behind him passing an ice pack around after a recent practice, Kevin Restani was asked how much longer he and his 55-year-old body would continue playing competitive basketball.
“As long as I’m reasonably healthy,” he said with a smile. “So maybe another week.”
Restani is both the coach and starting center for the Olympic Club’s Golden Masters basketball team, a group of players 50 and older who are currently preparing for the biggest event on their calendar. San Francisco is hosting the National Association of Club Athletic Directors basketball tournament, which begins tonight at 7:30 when Restani and his Red team take on the Olympic Club’s White team in a first-round game.
The tournament is divided into four groups — the most-competitive Open Division, followed by the A Division, Masters Division and Golden Masters — and features club teams from throughout the country. It really gets going Thursday with 10 games on the schedule and continues through Sunday’s semifinal and championship rounds.
“It’s not like we’re going to lose sleep if we lose, but once you’re out there, you want to do everything you can to win,” Restani said. “It can get frustrating because you can’t do the things you used to, but there’s a great camaraderie with the guys and you want to represent the Club well.”
When Restani was at the top of his game, he was one of the top prep players San Francisco has ever produced. He was a high school star at Riordan before playing at USF and compiling a solid professional career in both the NBA and in Italy. The 6-foot-9 Restani, who is now a counselor at Balboa, counts playing under current Warriors coach Don Nelson while with the Milwaukee Bucks and teaming with George “Ice Man” Gervin with the San Antonio Spurs as some of his professional highlights. And while he’s certainly slowed some since, his skills may not have depreciated as much as he thinks.
“Obviously his ability to get up and down the court isn’t what it used to be,” said Golden Masters guard Brad Quanstrom, who also teamed with Restani at USF from 1972-74. “But I don’t think I’ve ever seen him shoot better than he is now and his passing skills have only gotten better, too. I don’t know how he does it.”
While Restani’s team appears to be the favorite in its four-team bracket, the six-team Open Division is loaded with young talent. The Olympic Club’s Red team is led by former Stanford standout Peter Sauer, now an investment banker by day who is averaging more that 31 points per game. That team is a perfect 14-0 with him in the lineup. Other key players for the Olympic Club Red include former St. Mary’s star A.J. Rollins and ex-Harvard standout Mike Gilmore.
What: National Association of Club Athletic Directors basketball tournament
Where: The Olympic Club, 524 Post St.
Divisions: Open, A, Masters and Golden Masters (50-plus)
Starts: Tonight at 7:30, San Francisco Golden Masters Red against San Francisco White
Schedule: Thursday’s games start at 4 p.m., last games at 9 p.m.; Friday’s first games at 8 a.m., last games at 8:30 p.m.; Saturday’s first games at 8 a.m., last games at 8:30 p.m.; Sunday’s first games at 8 a.m.
Championships: Sunday: Open Division—11:45 a.m., Sky Gym; Golden Masters—11:45 a.m., Post Gym; A—1 p.m., Sky Gym; Masters—1 p.m., Post Gym.
Players to Watch: Peter Sauer, San Francisco Red (Open); Michael Johnson, Washington (Open); Ryan Robertson, Missouri (Open); Rick Raivio, Portland (Master’s); Kevin Restani, San Francisco (Golden Masters)