Simeon claimed the first ever MPAC Elite International Tournament title by topping Huntington Prep, finishing off an entertaining week of basketball at GEMS World Academy on Saturday.
Leading the way for the Chicago-based high school in the 83-78 win was DJ Williams, named Most Valuable Player for his game-high 32 points. The 6-foot-7 forward spurred Simeon to an early double-digit lead and finished the effort with dazzling shooting.
“I was the hot man this game and my team-mates trusted me and gave me the ball,” said Williams, who has committed to play at the University of Illinois.
Huntington fought back throughout the contest as Ronshad Shabazz and Thomas Bryant kept their team in contention. The smooth-stroking Shabazz netted 27 points in his duel with Williams, while centre Bryant provided backboard-rattling dunks to score his 31.
In the third-place game, Utah Reign, an Amateur Athletic Union team comprised of players from Lone Peak high school, rebounded from their semi-final defeat to beat Montverde Academy 92-89.
Frank Jackson scored 42 points to cap his run of 40 and 50-point games earlier in the week. The high-flying guard even took home the crown in the slam dunk contest, highlighted by his two-handed, between-the-legs pump jam and a two-handed windmill, both of which earned him the full 40 points from the four judges.
MVP Williams was all praise for Dubai and said afterwards: “Dubai is beautiful.
“It’s pretty hot and I don’t really like the heat, but other than that, there’s a lot of nice cars and houses."
Victor Chalfoun finished with 15 points and converted two triples in the extra period to lift Conrad Dubai to a 68-62 overtime win over Raffles Dubai in Synergy Sports’ Inter-Hotel Basketball Tournament at Jumeira Baccalaureate School.
The victory was the fourth straight for Conrad Dubai and it lifts them to top of the table of eight-team standings.
“This was a big win for us, especially against a quality team,” Chalfoun told Sport360. “We’re having a good run in the tournament because we’ve been practising hard – at least twice a week – and our team is improving from game to game.
"Our confidence level is high and we are setting our sights on lifting the championship trophy."
Conrad were dominant in the first half but Siob Gorospe, who led all scorers with 27 points, and Joseph Racho took charge for Raffles Dubai in the next two quarters to keep the game close.
Conrad were up by two, 53-51, in the closing seconds of the regulation period before Gorospe chipped away the deficit by finishing a fastbreak play.
Possession went back to Conrad and they had a couple of chances to win the game but JC Morales widely missed his floater and three-point shot which sent the game into overtime.
Chalfoun opened the added quarter with a triple to put Conrad on top, 56-53, but Raffles Dubai's 6’10” centre Suhail Khan quickly levelled the scores with a three-point play. Philipp Villanueva struck back with a three-pointer and Roland Mahalong followed it up with a basket to put Conrad up by five, 61-56, with three minutes left in overtime.
Chalfoun made another three-pointer and Conrad protected their lead with good defence and finished the game with better ball movement.
In other games, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai mercilessly trashed Sofitel The Palm, Dubai 66-29; Auris Plaza Hotel dominated Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate 57-42; Emaar Hospitality Group trounced The H Hotel 67-49.
Conrad Dubai 68 – Roland Mahalong 17; Victor Chalfoun 15; JC Morales 14; Philipp Villanueva 11; Harold Abonitalla 4; Steve Olweny 3; Felebrico 2; Ross 2
Raffles Dubai 62 – Siob Gorospe 27; Frederick Burugu 13; Joseph Racho 8; Ronald Lasuta 6; Suhail Khan 5; John Candelario 2; Justin Soriano 1
The first annual MPAC Elite International Tournament is already in full swing, but basketball fans can still catch the conclusion of the talent- filled event this weekend at Al Shabab Club in Dubai.
Four high school teams from the US have sent top players to represent their respective regions against the MPAC squad consisting of players from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The teams are Montverde Academy from Florida, Huntington Prep from West Virginia, Lone Peak from Utah and Simeon from Chicago.
All five sides have been battling in a round robin format since June 14, with Thursday and Friday’s fixtures setting up the third-place match and championship games on Saturday afternoon.
The MENA team is representing 10 different countries and the players were selected after a year-long recruiting process to compete in the tournament sponsored by the Dubai Sports Council.
“It’s a big thing for our boys. They get to play against top high school US players,” said Luqman Rashad, founder and executive director of MPAC Sports Basketball.
“We are thrilled to put this historic event by hosting top players from the US and making them play against our boys. This will be a basketball showcase unlike anything this region has ever seen,” added Rashad.
Spectators can get a look at some of the next Division I college basketball stars and even potential NBA draftees with the US schools having produced a number of recognisable names over the years.
Chicago Bulls star point guard Derrick Rose went to Simeon before playing in college at Memphis and then being drafted No1 overall by his hometown franchise in the 2008 draft.
Rose is a three-time All-Star and won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in 2011.
Another Simeon product is Jabari Parker, former Duke star and potential top-three pick in this summer’s draft.
Huntington Prep has its own history of developing NBA players, including OJ Mayo, Patrick Patterson and Gorgui Dieng, up-andcoming centre for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Former Kansas star Andrew Wig- By Jay Asser 05 Four US and a MENA team at the tournament Water Polo gins, another potential top-three pick in the draft and top recruit in his high school class, also went to the West Virginia school.
Montverde Academy has produced NBA players Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Solomon Alabi, while Justin Hamilton was from Lone Peak.
The invited schools get the opportunity to experience competition at an international level, while increasing their reputation worldwide as youth basketball continues to grow in popularity, especially in the Gulf region.
“The school teams are extremely excited to come to the UAE,” said Rashad. “MPAC, which is a basketball academy based in the UAE, follows the US basketball culture and is highly respected in America. They know the quality of our coaching and that’s the reason they wanted to be part of this.”
Don’t miss out on the exciting finish to the region’s first annual elite showcase and a glimpse at potential future stars.
The third-place game will take place on Saturday at 16:00, while the championship will be played right after at 17:45.