NBA All Star drops in at the South Sudanese Australian National Classic

Article courtesy of Adam McKay, Helping Hoops

On the weekend of July 10-12, 2015, 48 teams from across Australia assembled in Melbourne to compete in the 2015 South Sudanese Australian National Classic. Of course, Helping Hoops was there to do what we do best… help out on the organising committee and provide volunteers throughout the three days of competition.

The National Classic is one of two annual basketball tournaments organised by the South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association, and is not only one of the most exciting tournaments in Australia, but also an important event for the South Sudanese Australian community. Maintaining a sense of community and cultural identity, whilst celebrating the fact that we are all Australian, is a key feature of the work the South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association undertakes.

Luol Deng with many of the talented players on hand at the 2015 South Sudanese Australian National Classic - Courtesy Helping Hoops

Following a clinic by two-time NBA All Star Luol Deng and his high school basketball coach, Joe Mantegna of Blair Academy on the Thursday, the National Classic kicked off on Friday, July 10, and saw all six courts of Frankston Basketball Stadium in use as over-500 players competed at a frenetic pace. The Under-18, 20, Women and Open Men divisions were joined by the Under 16′s for the first time in 2015, with the next wave of basketball talent on show for all to see. The tournament, which has origins dating back to 2003, has grown over time, with 48 teams making this year’s National Classic the largest by far.

The competitions culminated on Sunday, July 12, with semi finals deciding the finalists for the afternoon. Sydney took home the inaugural Under 16 Championship, and also enjoyed success at the Under 20 level, while Melbourne’s Longhorns were victorious in the Under 18′s. Adelaide Warriors fought hard to win a thrilling Open Women’s final, which saw them narrowly get over the line in a nail-biting 34-33 win over the Black Magic.

The highly-anticipated Slam Dunk Contest preceded the Open Men final, with Melbourne’s Pat Golong soaring through the air for a spectacular dunk to seal the victory. It was then time for the national anthems of Australia and South Sudan, which were performed by local recording artist, Achol Marial.

The Longhorns taking on the Wild Beasts in the Open final - Courtesy Helping Hoops

The Open Men final was an all-Melbourne affair, with the Longhorns taking on the Wild Beasts in front of a packed house. The atmosphere was largely provided by the Wild Beasts’ supporters, which were in full voice as their team proved too strong for the Longhorns from the outset.

The award ceremony wrapped up the National Classic, with players excited to be presented with medals and trophies by Luol Deng. Helping Hoops is privileged to be part of the organising committee that makes this event possible, and we would like to thank the 40-plus volunteers that gave up their time to help the National Classic be the great success is was.

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