Local basketball aficionados are sure to cap the year with a bang as Jazzville Basketball League kicks off one of the biggest amateur tournaments in Dubai on Friday at the Jumeira Baccalaureate School.
Twenty-eight teams will vie for the Cup, total cash prize of 26,000 dirhams and bragging rights in four divisions: Inter-hotel; Inter-company; Class D (6ft below); and Inter-tailoring (sports apparel).
Expect loads of basketball action and some interesting side notes as old foes and emerging rivalries collide on the hard court.
Highly anticipated is the comeback of Jumeirah Group which returns to the local basketball scene after a seven-year hiatus.
Team coordinator Ernie Tejam, Jr. warns they are stronger than before as they will be fielding their best Filipino, Russian, Kenyan and Indian players selected from their recent domestic tournament.
But no team can be hungrier than Atlantis The Palm, Dubai who are seeking to lift their first championship trophy. Despite a formidable line-up anchored by Kenyan centre Rey Odhiambo, Atlantis managed to finish only as runners-up in previous tournaments.
Coach Manuel Kuong beefed up his side with Serbian, American, and Russian reinforcements but he still has to pull some magic off his sleeves to steer his rookie-laden team to the Final.
Preparations and team practice are regularly being held by Crowne Plaza Dubai who are highly favoured to lift the Cup in the Inter-hotel division. Player-coach Patrick Tiongco said his team, which has already won two championship trophies, is still intact.
Expectations are also high from Auris Plaza Hotel, Asiana Hotel and Mövenpick Hotel Deira, who will all provide stiff competition and give the more experienced teams a run for their money.
Another highlight of the JBL is the Inter-tailoring category with sports apparel companies enlisting former professional players to boost their campaign.
Ican Customised Apparel manager Jake Celocia said he is tapping the services of former PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) players Sonny Toring and Bong Guerrero to boost the efforts of Alwyn Flores Mike Almonte, Jojo Cagampang and Jayson Araneta.
— Angel Tesorero (@angeltesorero) December 13, 2015
Al Ain-based Kabayan Gents Tailoring will also be travelling to Dubai with a formidable and tall line-up led by 6’6” centre Gilbert Neo and 6’2” shooting guard Jonathan Fernandez who played for Purefoods in the PBA.
Dubai-based PGW (Philippine Garments Workshop), McFearin Tailoring and Perfect Fit will also shoot for the top prize and 12,000 cash bonus.
The Inter-company category battle will be between Nestle, Souq.com, Al Tayer, Al Seer, Dubai Drydocks and Kendah while Jak’s Mankok, Bisaya Tanan, JND, Kalma, Team Undo, Sweetie Vendela, PEBA Selection, Batang Lubao, Pampanga, and Zuma will fight for Class D division honours.
“JBL provides a platform for players to develop their game and improve their skills,” JK Sports chairman Roland Crisostomo told Sport360.
JBL is powered by JK Sports Tournament and Organizing Services and supported by Wall Street Exchange, Filinvest, The Medical City, JK Technical Services, and Jak’s Mankok House.
Filipino expats in Dubai joined in the celebration of the UAE’s 44th National Day by holding a basketball tournament organised by JK Sports at the Jumeira Baccalaureate School on Wednesday.
Ten teams vied for supremacy in the men’s division while four teams competed in the women’s category.
In the elimination round, Dave Fortuna finished with 26 points and carried Team Bagito to a 76-69 overtime win over Hot Toreros while Richard Regalado hit six triples and registered 23 markers to lead Cailey to a 75-67 victory over Takuza.
Tibudan also converted six three-point attempts and posted 20 points in Bisaya Tanan’s 72-49 trashing of Team Sam while Dinalupihan Aklas besieged War Machine 54-47.
In the Women’s Division, Wacky Lucio scored 10 points in Panthers’ 44-22 drubbing of Hoopers while Magic spelled a 39-32 win over Vixens.
Winners in the men’s category will meet on Friday in the knockout round to battle for the AED 4,000 cash prize while the losing teams in the elimination stage will also compete on Friday among themselves for a chance to bring home AED 1,000 cash prize.
“The objective our tournament was to showcase our solidarity and gratitude to our host country (UAE),” JK Sports Chairman Roland Crisostomo told Sport3600. “Filipinos love basketball and we are grateful to the UAE for providing us an opportunity where we can find work and at the same time continue our passion for the sport.”
Bagito 76 – Dave Fortuna 26; Gherome Payrush 13; Falito Mades 12, RJ Teja 9; Nelson Travis 7; Nel Flora 4; Tarro Manio 3; Eric Peñaroyo 2
Hot Toreros 69 – Pet Nobela 17; Lester 16; Arnel Igonia 10; Watts Arabe 8; Alfie Salenga 6; Cris Balauitan 3; Fahad 3; Relano 2; Francis 2; Ron Cardona 2
The 10th Annual UAE Streetball Championship got underway on Friday with almost 80 teams entering this year’s tournament across seven categories, including Men’s Elite, Men’s Open, Men 6’ and under, Women’s Elite, Women’s Open, Boys 16-18 and Boys 14-15.
They are all competing for a total prize pool of around Dhs75,000, with the winners of the main Men’s Elite competition taking home a cool Dhs10,000.
The winners of that title will likely be X Men, Beast Squad or Bone Collectors, according to tournament organiser Ziad Al Sharabi.
Of course, of the three, X Men may be at a slight advantage as they have a former NBA player among their ranks in 27-year-old ex-Sacramento Kings small forward Donte Green.
Green was selected 28th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies before being traded to the Houston Rockets and then the Kings, where he played in a total of 253 NBA games.
Now living in the UAE and playing for Al Nasr, Green’s involvement is just another indication of the UAE Streetball Championship’s rising popularity.
“The caliber of players competing is rising and it shows that this tournament is growing rapidly. We’re going from strength to strength,” said Al Sharabi, who has been involved in running the last six versions and has seen the event grow from humble beginnings at Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club.
“It’s got so much bigger every year and it’s not just the same faces, we’re getting new players showing up. It’s an event people are starting to ask us about a few months before it is held, they’re seeking us out and they can’t wait for it.”
With the UAE itself approaching only its 44th birthday, many sporting tournaments held in the country are in their infancy.
The UAE Streetball Championship, however, is very much a fixed part of the sporting calendar, and is the longest standing three on three event in the region.
What started as a tournament played on one court with two baskets has evolved into an eight-court tournament, six of which are permanent.
“The club itself was established 10 years ago and the tournament has been around ever since,” said Al Sharabi.
“It’s a very well established tournament. It doesn’t make us any money but we want to keep it going because the roots of it and the club are intertwined.”
One thing that always proves to be a crowd pleaser is the Slam Dunk Competition, which has been won for the last three years by Syrian Amer Sati.
“Amer used to play for the American University of Dubai and he was also part of a recent Nike basketball campaign, while he is a former Syrian international too,” he said.
“There are lots of new faces though this year so he could face a bit of a challenge to defend his title from some pretty big guys.”
There is also a 3 point competition, with both of these held prior to the Men’s Elite final on Saturday.