The program concluded with a draft event hosted by DCT Abu Dhabi and the NBA on Saturday, January 14 at the three-court facility of the NYU Abu Dhabi campus. The 60 participating youth teams (30 boys’ teams and 30 girls’ teams) were matched to an NBA team for the season, received appropriate NBA team-branded jerseys, and participated in basketball development clinics, skill challenges, and competitions. DCT Abu Dhabi Chairman Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, NBA Europe and Middle East Managing Director Ralph Rivera, seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady and ten-year NBA veteran Luis Scola attended the event and chatted with the youth players.
HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “Abu Dhabi contributes to the growth of global youth basketball as we inspire our youth to take action and enrich their lives with respect, teamwork and the values of the game. It is a pleasure to see the passion and excitement at grassroots level among our youth players who can only inspire more interest in the sport and pave the way for a new generation of native sporting talent, inspired by the Jr. NBA and the many sporting initiatives across Abu Dhabi .”
“We are very excited to expand the Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League in partnership with DCT Abu Dhabi to give more Emirati youth the opportunity to learn the fundamentals and core values of the game,” said Rivera. “The interest from local schools has been phenomenal so we are encouraged that the program has already doubled and will continue to grow, offering better access to the sport for young players and coaches.”
“It was so much fun connecting with the youth teams competing in the second Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League and witnessing their excitement for the upcoming season,” said McGrady. “Basketball is a global sport that transcends countries and cultures and I am grateful to have played a part in growing the game here in Abu Dhabi.”
McGrady, a 15-year NBA veteran who retired from the league in 2013, is a seven-time NBA All-Star, seven-time All-NBA selection, two-time NBA scoring champion, and winner of the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 2001 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
Scola, a native of Argentina, currently serves as CEO of Italian Lega Basket Serie A team Pallacanestr Varese. He signed with the Houston missiles 2007 and was elected to NBA All Rookie First Teambefore you play for them Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Networks during his decade-long NBA career.
The Jr. NBA is the league’s global youth basketball program for boys and girls that teaches the fundamental skills and core values of the game – teamwork, respect, determination and community – at the broader level to promote and enhance the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents. The Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League aims to promote the values of the game and encourage youth to lead active and healthy lifestyles through participation in sport. During the 2022-23 season, the Jr. NBA will operate 111 leagues across Europe and the Middle East, which together will reach nearly 50,000 youth in 28 countries.
The partnership also sees DCT Abu Dhabi serving as the NBA’s official tourism destination partner in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and China as part of Experience Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates’ tourism promotion initiative.
For more information on the Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League, which will continue to be operated by Gulf Sports Media FZ LLC (trading name Sport360), please visit OWQLO and follow the Jr. NBA on Facebook (Facebook.com/jrnba), Instagram (@jrnba and @nbaarabisch) and Twitter (@jrnba and @nbaarabic).