It’s actually happening. Months after initial reports of a prep basketball tournament in Dubai were written off as specious or even farcical, the group backing the event has come through, ensuring that four of America’s top teenage basketball programs will travel to the UAE city to take part in a first-ever cross-cultural basketball event in the Persian Gulf state.
Even more curious is the fact that the entire event is being put on for free; all the American teams are having their expenses paid, and there will be no charge for attendance for local citizens who want to take in the games.
As reported by MaxPreps, four different American powerhouse programs will head to Dubai in the second week of June to take part in the first-ever Elite International Basketball Tournament, which will be held starting on June 14. The event has been organized and sponsored by a group named MPAC sports, and will feature two-time Super 25 national champion Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), Huntington St. Joseph Prep (Huntington, W. Va.), Lone Peak High (Highland, Utah) and Simeon Career Academy (Chicago, Ill.). The event will also host teams from across the Middle East and North Africa, according to a MPAC press release that quoted executive director Luqman Rashad, and will include one team that features players from multiple countries that will represent MPAC itself.
“We are thrilled at the fact that we have been able to pull off this historic event by hosting the top players from America and are equally thrilled about gathering the top talent from the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] Region to join us in Dubai. This will be a basketball showcase unlike anything this region has ever seen.”
While the event is officially about basketball, for the teens involved it will be a valuable cross-cultural experience. Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis told MaxPreps that his team had already organized a dune buggy safari and an afternoon at a combined water park/indoor ski resort (yes, those exist in Dubai, where money is no option). Between the events the teens will try not to melt in temperatures that could reach 105 degrees or higher.
Clearly, all are in for a unique event, not least of all Dubai itself, which will have a lot more elite teen athletes walking around for a week in June.