Basketball is a top Dubai sport – just a step behind football and cricket– but the five-on-five court game is bounding toward the number one spot. With more leagues and tournaments starting up, and academies teaching youngsters how to dribble and shoot – football had better watch its back.
On Friday August 8, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), is hosting the U17 Men’s World Championships in Dubai for the first time. The bi-annual event will see 16 teams from across the world compete for the title, and will be a global showcase for young basketball talent. Teams from countries such as the USA, Philippines, France, Argentina, Australia and, of course, the UAE will be battling it out on the court hoping to steal the crown from the American team that has won the previous two titles.
Abdulla Al Ansari is a member of the executive board for FIBA Asia and Secretary General for UAE Basketball. He has been involved in basketball in the UAE for 30 years, and despite the Americans’ dominance at the championships, he feels that the competition will be strong.
‘Everyone would like to think that they are the favourites, but all of the teams are very good – they have to be to get to the competition. But I think there will be a lot of support for the popular basketball playing countries like America and the Philippines; they love basketball and their fans here will be very happy to hear that their teams are competing.’
Al Ansari believes that hosting a tournament like the U17 world championships will further increase the reach of the sport and showcase some home-grown talent from the UAE. Regardless of the end result, Al Ansari is confident the players, spectators and fans will be in for a treat in Dubai.
‘We have experience of hosting events like this; every year we have the Dubai International Tournament, and the arenas are full every night. People can expect to see top quality basketball, especially at this age group, as this is the time when they get picked for the national team, so it’s a good opportunity to watch the sport,’ said Al Ansari.
Even though the FIBA tournament is for the guys, there’s no denying that basketball is popular with women in Dubai too. This is evident at a social level, and sporting league organisation Duplays has seen uptake in the sport increase. It has eight women’s teams and eight mixed, with five ladies signing up to a team every month. Duplays is hosting a women’s summer clinic with French former professional basketball star Nicolas Trabucco, where he will be running evening sessions of conditioning, skills and drills and scrimmages. Julia Ridley, operations manager at Duplays, says uptake for the ladies clinic has already been positive. ‘We’ve had a great response to the clinic so far, and [Trabucco] is helping boost our newer players’ confidence in the game, along with challenging the more skilled players.’
The FIBA tournament promisesto offer nine days of slam-dunking skill from the young internationals, and may inspire more fans to take to the court.
2014 FIBA U17 World Championships. Free to attend. August 8-August 16. Qualifiers held at Al Ahli and Al Wasl Sports Clubs. Final to be held at Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex, Emirates Road, www.fiba.com (04 306 2666).
Where to get on court
Dubai’s largest sports and social club has 36 teams for all levels of experience from competitive to recreational. To attend the women’s clinic with coach Nicolas Trabucco, sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dhs50 per session. Sun 7.30pm-10pm, Dubai Sports World, www.duplays.com (04 447 2394).
Dubai Sports World
Giving athletes a facility to play indoors in the summer. Courts can be booked for an hour and so you and your team can play and train all day. The IFA Sports Academy is also running a summer basketball camp for children aged four to 16 from Sunday to Thursday, 1pm to 4m. Dubai World Trade Centre
www.dubaisportsworld.ae (04 306 4000). www.ifasport.com (056 795 9558).
This basketball company runs leagues for men women and youths, and host tournaments and clinics, including a Pinoy league, three-on-three, and slam dunk shoot outs.
www.mpacsports.com (04 385 1777).
How to shoot a 3-pointer:
Shooting a 3-pointer in basketball earns you more points than any other shot, and it allows you to score at long range without having to penetrate the defence within the key zone around the basket. Firstly, identify your dominant foot and hand. As you step out first with your strong foot, do not forget to bend your knees. This is where the power comes from. Cradle your hand under the ball with your dominant hand, and stabilise the ball with your weak hand.
As you elevate your legs, extend your arm high and follow through once the ball leaves your palm
Make sure you do not step over the 3-point line or else the shot only counts as two points.
Monica Saade, Marketing Manager Duplays, www.duplays.com (04 447 2394).