The Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) offered thrilling action during its tournament that was held on July 9-15. The competition featured 63 boys’ teams and 56 girls’ teams traveling across the country and around the world.
The NABI tournament is the largest basketball tournament to showcase Native American and indigenous youth in North America, as well as internationally. The furthest traveled teams were from New Zealand, Alaska and Canada. This is the first tournament of its kind to become certified by the NCAA according to the NABI website.
“These kids represent tribes, high school teams, [and] club teams from all over the United States including Alaska. We also have teams from Canada and New Zealand,” said GinaMarie Scarpa, NABI CEO and founder, in an interview with KTAR News. “We started the invitational 11 years ago with just local teams, and the interest grew and grew.”
On Saturday, finalist teams played championship games that drew a crowd of about 900 spectators to the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. This year, the NetZipperz from Reno, Nevada took the girls’ gold medal, and North Thunder from Flagstaff captured the girls’ silver medal. Among the boys’ teams, the AZ Warriors from Mesa achieved the gold medal, and Northenazellite from Window Rock won the silver medal.
During the girls’ silver game, the Native All-Star Cheer Team from the Tohono O’odham Nation in Sells, Arizona performed at halftime. The boys’ silver game halftime hosted sponsor recognitions and a performance by the Native All-Stars Cheer Team. World Champion Dunker Kenny Dobbs performed during halftime of the boys’ gold game.
The tournament offered a week full of fun, kicking off Sunday, July 9, with opening ceremonies hosted by the Ak-Chin Indian Community at Copper Sky in Maricopa. The event began with a Parade of Flags, and Ak-Chin Indian Community Chairman, Robert Miguel gave an opening speech. The Ak-Chin Language Department then sang the National Anthem, and Little Mr. and Miss Ak-Chin said a blessing. After that, the Ak-Chin Language Department sang the evening song. The tournament games were played at 6 gyms within Maricopa, Stanfield and Bapchule. The championship games were played on Saturday, July 15, at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Ak-Chin Indian Community was a presenting sponsor of the tournament, along with NIKE N7, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Gila River Indian Community.
While the basketball tournament is a huge draw, NABI isn’t only about basketball. The NABI Foundation is committed to supporting Native American youth with programs that encourage higher education, sports, health and wellness, and community.
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