Dubai: A group of young schoolgirls are dreaming big after walking away with the top two spots in the junior division at the 3x3 basketball tournament that concluded at the Festival City arena late on Tuesday.
Part of the Nad Al Sheba (NAS) Sports Tournament organised by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of DSC, the 3x3 basketball was one of two new sports introduced into the programme this year.
The Gems team got the better of the Rim Rockers 10-9 in extra-time to clinch the title, while the Jam Warriors downed Victory 9-2 for third place. Off court, the members of the two finalists are friends and school-mates, but on it they were fierce competitors. The final was tied 7-7 after the regulation ten minutes forcing extra-time during which the Gems team of Shreya Shetty, Marwa Mayan, Tabitha Maria Vinu and Delia Aranha managed to cling on to a one-point lead to win 10-9.
“There is no better feeling than winning. When we were on court it really didn’t occur to us that we were playing against our friends. This was the final and it had to be won at all costs. In the end, the spectators got to witness an intense match,” Shetty said.
“Basketball is the sport of our choice and we have assimilated so many life values and lessons. While we fought for every point on the court, and even the fouls didn’t affect us. But, off the court, we are the best of friends who have grown up nurturing the true values of life as shown to us by our coach Mrs Jincy Livin,” Aranha chipped in.
The group of girls had pooled together and entered three teams in the competition, with the Brooklyn Nets bowing out early as Gems and Rim Rockers — consisting of Malavika Priya Mohandas, Claudia Palix, Ishika Singh and Naisha Amin — advanced to the final. “We are one family who use basketball as a means to grow as students and worthy citizens,” Mohandas offered.
After being together for at least four years under the watchful eye of Livin, the Gems team went on to win the CBSE Cluster title, thereby earning a ticket to represent the region in India. “This has been a good experience for all of us. It’s the final year of school for many of us, but it is basketball that has given us so much. We live surrounded by this sport. Basketball bonds us and brings out the best in us,” Singh chipped in.
Meanwhile, the Big 3 — comprising of UAE national team players Talal Salim, Khalid Khalifa, Qais Omar and Rashid Ayman — won the men’s open category with a 21-14 verdict against Ball Above All, while University of Sharjah (UOS) took the third spot with a 12-6 win over The Recipe.
The volleyball final will be an all-F3 affair after F3 ousted defending champions Surprise 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-22) and F3 ‘A’ got the better of Spinneys 3-1 (25-23, 27-29, 25-14, 25-14). The third place play-off and final will be held at the Nas Sports Complex on Thursday.
Junior Girls: Gems bt Rim Rockers 10-9 (extra-time); Third place: Jam Warriors bt Victory 9-2.
Women: Al Nasr bt Sharjah Women 11-5; Third place: Al Sharqiya bt Wusta 13-10.
Junior Boys: Tribe bt Al Aemid 21-16; Third place: Istlib.
Men’s Open: Big 3 bt Ball Above All 21-14; Third place: University of Sharjah (UOS) bt The Recipe 12-6.
Slam Dunk Champion: Amer Al Sati (Team Binary Financial)
Three-Point Champion: Faisal Mohammad Al Amed (Al Nasr)