GRASMERE — A Staten Island semi-professional basketball team is asking for donations as they try to raise rent for a home court.
The Staten Island Vipers, part of the American Basketball Association (ABA), started an Indiegogo campaign this week to raise $10,000 to rent the St. John Villa gym for their 15 home games this season.
"Currently, [the team's funded] only from myself and my partner, and we handle everything out of our pockets," said Ayanna Phillip, co-owner of the team.
"It's tough, we're kind of depleted."
In their last two seasons, the team bounced around from gym to gym across the borough. Philip said this year they want to be able to have a court to call their own.
The ABA pays only for basketballs for the season. Philip and her partner, Kyle Brereton, have to cover other costs like travel expenses and player's salaries, which has been hard for them to do.
"These are professional players, they're supposed to be paid and we need to have money to pay them," Philip said.
"They might get a little money for gas and tolls, but I want to actually be able to say 'here's your salary' every week."
Philip said running the team has been a challenge, with the pair holding full-time jobs while running and publicizing the team.
"There's probably people on Staten Island that still don't know we have a professional basketball team," she said.
So far, the team hasn't been able to raise any money toward its goal, but Philip said she has been promoting the campaign on social networks and is still looking for sponsors and advertisers to help fund the season.
The ABA revitalized the classic professional league's name in 1999, and has nearly 100 teams across the country playing in it, including ones in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan.
Philip and Brereton, both former high school basketball stars, founded the team in 2008.
Philip said she hopes the team will stay afloat so she can keep her hoop dream alive.
"This is one of our dreams to prove Staten Island has good basketball players," Philip said.
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this year we'll drag through the mud and we'll be able to continue."