EDINBURG — Diamond Stone had the baseline cut off so he fired a pass to the corner where Jacobi Boykins took no time in launching and nailing a 3-pointer.
It’s raining 3s in Edinburg once again.
And if RGV Vipers first-year head coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah has his way, that rain will turn into a torrential downpour for the defending NBA G League champions.
“We definitely have some talent on the floor,” said Abdelfattah, who was an assistant under the previous head coach, James Blair, before being named to the position earlier this month. “We want to shoot more 3s than last year — that’s my goal. We have a lot of guys who can shoot the 3 from one through five.”
The Vipers held their first day of training camp Tuesday with 16 names on the roster. That will need to be trimmed to 12 names by Nov. 5, when the G League requires all teams to submit a final roster.
Returners include Jacobi Boykins, Angel Rodriguez, Brandon Sampson, Diamond Stone and Roger Moute a Bidias.
The Vipers won their third G League title last year, defeating the Westchester Knicks 2-1 in the best-of-3 final. Not long after the season ended, the Philadelphia 76ers announced they had hired Blair for an assistant coaching position, opening the opportunity for Fattah.
Now at the helm, Fattah said it felt “amazing” to get training camp underway Monday.
“It felt good to get on the floor with the guys and get the flow of things,” he said. “This is going to be a tough training camp and we have couple of guys fighting for position. There’s definitely some talent on the floor.
One of those fighting for a spot is 6-foot-5 Frank Howard, a Syracuse graduate who went undrafted. He spent the past year traveling and signed a contract to play in Europe.
“It was a pretty long summer,” Howard said. “Finishing my senior year, I didn’t feel I was in the best shape so I waned to get in shape and get my body right and get the tweaks in my body to get 100%. It has served me well.
“There’s a lot of talent and versatility out here on the court. I’m glad to have found a home and to work with these guys and coaching staff.”
Boykins returns after averaging 9.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game last season. The Louisiana Tech grad could be seen talking to the new players and giving them instruction.
“I’m just trying to help out, knowing that I have a half-year being here last year,” Boykins said. “We know what the end goal is here, just like everyone does and that’s to win a championship.”
Also returning is point guard Angel Rodriguez, a 5-foot-11 guard from Miami, who was the Vipers’ starting point guard last year before injuring his shoulder and missing the most of the season. Rodriguez, from Puerto Rico, averaged 12.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game in the 10 games he played before the injury.
“I woke up this morning excited to know I have the opportunity to be here,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been a while and it felt great. Last year was a little disappointing and I was having a lot of fun before the injury. Obviously it wasn’t the best season; I’m just glad to be back in this city and with this team.
“It has been about eight months (since surgery) and I’ve been working out and training, but it’s not the same as playing. Trying to get the rust out and getting in game shape.”
The Vipers begin their quest for a second straight title, and league best fourth overall, against Austin at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at Bert Ogden Arena.
“Winning a championship back to back is tough in the G League; for one the roster is changing almost daily,” Fatallah said. “As long as we can help these guys get better and achieve their goals, that’s what matters to me and my coaching staff.”