Hoop Dreams

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Hoop Dreams

It’s 45 minutes before the start of Stanmore Jafferys’ first ever basketball tournament and you arrive early at the Sports Complex of St. Helen’s School in Northwood. You grab a coffee and croissant offered to participants and walk through the double doors into the sports hall, expecting to have a quiet warmup. Surprised, you see many others who are obsessed with the game of basketball already taking jump-shots, chatting strategy, discussing lineups, and getting physically & mentally ready for the tournament. This is the beauty of SJ Basketball – where hoopers of all ages take to the court together for something bigger.

To a hooper, there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing that swish after the ball pierces through the net. No wait…it’s the deafening roar of the crowd after hitting a big shot. Actually…it’s the mob of chest-bumps from your teammates after a thunderous block. Now imagine experiencing all of that in one day while playing the game you love, competing against the best ballers in your community. It was a sight to be seen and an event to fully experience.

The first ever SJ Basketball 3-on-3 Tournament tipped-off at 9:30am on Saturday, 17th February, 2024. 
35 players, 8 teams, 5 hours of pure basketball. Half-court matches at a high pace led to some big on-court moments and plenty of competitive drama. Although this was a basketball tournament, playing basketball wasn’t the end goal – all proceeds from the tournament went towards the WF Aid Gaza Emergency Appeal.

The day started with Group Stages where we had 2 groups: Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Teams were created evenly, comprising of players from all ages (12-48) and all skills levels (beginners, intermediate, advanced). The opportunity for beginners to develop their confidence in playing the game was a key focus for this tournament, as every team was required to have each skill represented on the court at all times.

In the Eastern Conference, we had the following teams:
• Triple Double No Assists
• From the Logo
• Step-Back 3’s
• Ankle Breakers

The Western Conference included:
• Ice in the Veins
• Ball Don’t Lie
• Mamba Mentality
• Bully Ball

The group stages were an absolute epic display of not only individual basketball talent, but most importantly teamwork and sportsmanship. After the first 2 hours, Triple Double No Assists took first place in the East while Mamba Mentality snatched the top seed in the West to solidify their lead spots in the playoff rounds.

After the group stages, we held the highly anticipated 3-Point Shootout, open to all participants and spectators. 15 players signed up, including SJ’s very own Shaneabbas Merali and Zahid Khimji. We won’t record their scores here – don’t want them getting over confident now ;). It was a great display of shooting where we had some younger players new to SJ Basketball making it to the finals. In the end, Zainali Jamal won the contest in a sudden-death shootout vs Faisal Rajabi.

After Jamaat Salah and Lunch, we moved on to the playoffs where games got intense. The single-elimination format raised the stakes and ensured all teams brought their best to every single minute of each game. Zainali Jamal led his team, Triple Double No Assists, through the bracket into the finals. As a top seed, this was to be expected. Could Mamba Mentality hold up their end of the bargain on their side of the bracket? Unfortunately, their ride came to an immediate end in the Quarterfinals at the hands of Step-Back 3’s, who were then defeated in an intense showdown vs Sheikh Zoheir Esmail and his team, Bully Ball. The finals were all set: Triple Double No Assists vs Bully Ball.

What a final it was. A true throwback to 90s basketball with hard-nosed defense, big rebounds, physical play, and late-game drama. Bully Ball out-battled Triple Double No Assists to take the title and be crowned as champions of the first ever SJ Basketball 3-on-3 Tournament.

As the day wrapped up, we took the time to recognize all of the supporters, volunteers, donors, and players who made the tournament possible. Without their hard work and dedication, none of this could have happened.

Here is a recap of the awards on the day:
Champions: Bully Ball

o Sheikh Zoheir Ismail
o Haidar Abd-Ali
o Husayn Merali
o Mohamed Jawad Gulamhussein
o Sajjad Kanani

Runners-Up: Triple Double No Assists

o Zainali Jamal
o Farhaan Sheriff
o Asadali Bandali
o Ammar Jetha
o Zain Dharas

3-Point Shootout Champion: Zainali Jamal
Playmaker of the Tournament: Mahdi Hassan
Defensive Player of the Tournament: Ahmad Moinie
U16 MVP: AliRaza Damani
Tournament MVP: Zainali Jamal
Finals MVP: Sheikh Zoheir Esmail