Elite Malta Basketball hosted a four-team international tournament over the weekend at the Ta’ Qali pavilion, with USA Select Basketball Red taking the honours after beating local sides Starlites BC and Depiro BC.
USA Select Basketball, an organization composed of athletes that have completed their college or NCAA eligibility and are looking for professional contracts internationally, brought to Malta two teams – Red and Blue – to compete.
Tournament coordinator Ruben Baldacchino told the Times of Malta that despite it being difficult to bring such teams to Malta due to costs and especially the COVID-19 restrictions, “When an opportunity like this happens, our teams are always looking forward to face stronger competition.”
“The idea behind the Elite Basketball Tournament is to help local clubs by attracting international teams to Malta. Definitely, due to the COVID situation it was not easy but thanks to the help of the Malta Basketball Association, Malta Tourism Authority and Depiro Basketball Club we managed to make this happen.
“This year, we kept it to four teams only but the aim is to give this opportunity to more teams in the future. Hopefully this will be an annual event that would act as an international preseason tournament for local clubs.”
Asked about this year’s event, Baldacchino was happy with the result and is looking forward to another edition next year.
“(The event) went smooth, and targets were reached. We gave youth an exposure to foreign coaches and local teams played against higher opposition. The only setback was that we could not let spectators in due to Covid restrictions,” he said.
The tournament opened with a USA Select Red 80-74 win over Starlites,as Depiro beat USA Select Blue 63-62.
Starlites redeemed themselves the next day against USA Select Blue with a 68-60 win as Depiro fell to eventual winners USA Select Red 100-57.
US Coaches hold training camp for young Maltese players
While the highlight was the tournament, youth basketball players from the ages of 12-18 got the opportunity to follow training camp on Thursday held by USA Select.
“The kids loved it!” Baldacchino said.
“With the event doing well, they’ve asked me to do it again next year, with three days (of camp) or more.”