The Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) tournament featured competition, athleticism, and sportsmanship during events held in the Ak-Chin Indian Community, Maricopa, Az and downtown Phoenix, Az.
Each year, NABI showcases top high school athletes and teams from Native American and indigenous youth. Players come from around the United States, Canada and even New Zealand. Each year, NABI selects 64 boys’ teams and 64 girls’ teams to compete. Teams are divided into Silver and Gold divisions to level the competition.
This year, the Shooting Stars from Florida topped the Girls Silver Division. This team represents Comanche, Muskogee Creek, Seminole and Winnebago tribes. In the Boys Silver Division, Red Storm, an intertribal team from California, took the boys’ silver championship.
Taking first place in the Boys Gold Division was the Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation team from Arizona. In the Girls Gold Division, the New Mexico Elite took the top spot. This team has players from the San Felipe, Pueblo, Cochiti Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo, Sioux, Navajo and Samoan tribes.
Every game kept the audience on the edge of their seats. Athletes played their hearts out and represented sportsmanship at its best. Fans from all over the country packed the stands during the playoff games at host gyms in Maricopa and the championship games held June 29 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. The Phoenix Suns Gorilla and the Phoenix Mercury “Scorch” mascot also made appearances during the playoff games, as special guests.
While NABI offers nail-biting competition, the event isn’t only about basketball. Participants attend a college and career fair before the games begin, and top student-athletes receive recognition at the awards ceremony.
Moreover, the Junior NABI basketball camp coaches’ younger players who are graduating from 8th grade, and the players present an exhibition game. The Native-American all-stars performed cheerleading and acrobatics during game breaks.
A national organization, the NABI Foundation, supports Native-American youth through programs that encourage higher education, sports, health, and community building. Congratulations to this year’s tournament winners!
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