Three GRIC teams hoop it up in NABI tourney
July 15, 2016
Gila River Indian News
One hundred-twelve Native American basketball teams went head-to-head for the annual Native American Basketball Invitational held at five different gymnasiums in the Ak-Chin Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community from June 26 to July 2.
The championship games were held at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix on July 2.
Three Gila River teams entered the tournament for a run at the championship, the boys Gila River Warriors and Gila River teams and the girls Beeliners team.
The Gila River Indian Community and the Ak-Chin Indian Community, along with other entities sponsored the tournament.
GRIC hosted several games at the District 5 Multipurpose Building.
At the Maricopa High School gymnasium, the Gila River team beat the Treaty 3 Talons team from Ontario, Canada, 54-30.
After the game, Gila River Coach Rudy Flores said he was proud of his team’s performance.
He said preparations for this year’s NABI tournament started later than usual due to a revamped roster, but with a couple of returning players, things seemed to fit together.
The girls’ Beeliners coach Ronald Paul said his team put in countless hours of practice preparing for this year’s NABI tournament.
In their second game of the tournament, the Beeliners put on a good show charging to a victory over Pretty Tough, from Navajo country, 32-27.
After their victory Paul said, “[We] continue to practice with them…sometimes it’s difficult because they have other things to do at home.”
He said when it comes to practice time it can get a little distracting with so many things going on in their lives that it is extra rewarding to come away with a victory.
“We have one saying we try to tell them, ‘your lifestyle is killing your game.’ They think about that and then they go out and try practicing a little harder,” he said.
On June 29, the teams took a break from shooting hoops and attended a WNBA game between the Phoenix Mercury and the Connecticut Sun at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
During halftime each of the NABI teams was recognized before thousands of spectators.
The NABI finals consisted of eight teams in the gold and silver divisions for both boys and girls.
In the end, the Mesa based team, AZ Warriors won the boys gold division championship for the second consecutive year. Northern Thunder, from the Navajo Nation, won the silver division championship in the boys’ division.
The Netripperz, an assortment of Paiute tribes from Nevada, captured the girls gold division championship and in the silver division, Northern Thunder from the Navajo Nation came away with the title.
All of the GRIC teams played well and will be back next year to compete. In the meantime, the teams will compete in local tournaments.
For more information on the NABI tournament and other NABI projects, log on to www.nabifoundation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.