The 2016 edition of the South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association (SSANBA) Summer Slam is set for December 16-18, being held at Eagle Stadium in Werribee, Victoria.
With a rich history dating back to 2003, this year's event will feature 50 teams and over 500 players who will converge on Melbourne from all across Australia. The Summer Slam is Australia’s largest multicultural basketball tournaments and has certainly become an event not to miss due to the combination of athleticism and talent on show.
SSANBA commitee member Manyang 'Manny' Berberi, who is also the founder of the Longhorns Basketball Club, spoke glowingly of the tournament that has seen a number of under-the-radar talents get noticed over the years.
"I am really excited about the tournament this year," gushed Berberi. "There is just so much talent and it is getting better every year.
"A lot of kids that are talented that have just missed out, it is another chance, another opportunity for them to show what they can do. Sometime it is cost issues that prevent them from playing on a state team. This is just another chance for those who are not able to take part in those teams."
There is no doubting the caliber of talent that the tournament has unearthed over the years. Longhorns and now Louisville duo Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel both gained the attention of coaches and scouts at the Summer Slam before making their way to the US. They represent the type of talent that now has national coaches and talent scouts attending every year.
"These kids something have missed out or are under the radar for whatever reason," explained Berberi.
"We bring them together. The players of course, but we also invite the coaches, the state and national coaches. Mangok (Mathiang) was one of the junior players that flew under the radar. We realised he had a lot of ability and he would eventually go on tot play out his final two years of high school in the US before being recruited to Louisville.
"In his freshman year, he won a national championship (he red-shirted). After that, the national coaches wanted to know more. [Australian national men'steam head coach] Andrej Lemanis gave me a call to find out more...then not long after he [Mathiang] was playing for Australia at the World University Games."
Mangok Mathiang | Credit: University of Louisville Athletics
While Mathiang's star rose quickly, and Adel's star is also rising fast. Berberi also referred to another standout in current junior transfer Duop Reath now starring at LSU.
"We saw this big kid walk in at Knox for the tournament one year," said Berberi. "He was Duop Reath from Western Australia.
"He was big, strong and could play. That year NBA star Luol Deng was down at the tournament. He said 'that kid is special, he is the best player in the tournament.' Well now he is at LSU and he is playing so well."
There have been many other talents unearthed at the Summer Slam, and the 2016 edition is unlikely to be any different. It will also be highly competitive, with teams attending from most of the major Australian states.
"We have teams from Victoria of course, but we have other teams from New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia - even Queensland," further added Berberi.
"Everyone wants to play their best for their state. It really gets competitive and they all play with a lot of pride."
Berberi was also excited by the fact that the tournament grand finals and slam dunk competition would all be streamed online live for the fans to enjoy a cross the country, but by those overseas.
"We are so excited to have the grand finals broadcast online this year thanks to Live Sport Australia," explained Berberi. "It adds so much to the tournament, and provides a lot of exposure.
"While we would love as many people to come and watch live at Werribee, it will mean others who can't get there can watch it. The players overseas will be watching it - they love it. Coaches, scouts, family and friends, it will really add to a great event."
The tournament commences on from 9:00am AEDST on Friday, 16 December concluding with the grand finals on Sunday, 18 December. For more details, visit the official tournament website.
Live Stream | 2016 Summer Slam
You can watch the grand finals and slam dunk competition live from 11:50am AEDST, 18 December 2016.
1:00pm: Under 16 Boys
2:00pm: Under 18 Boys
3:00pm: Under 20 Men
4:00pm: Slam Dunk Contest
4:30pm: Open Men