Three local basketball Division One sides will have the chance to take on a USA Select team this weekend as players and coaches from the organisation landed in Malta for the second edition of the Elite Basketball Tournament.
The American team is part of an organisation composed of athletes that have completed their college or National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) eligibility and are looking for professional contracts internationally. Their visit to Malta is part of an international tour they are undertaking, and this year, they will face Depiro BC, Hibernians BC, and Gzira Athleta in friendly games.
Ahead of the games starting Friday with a game that features Gzira and the USA Select, event coordinator Ruben Baldacchino emphasised the exchanges he expects between local teams and the American selection.
“It will be three nights of good basketball level, where USA Select will face local teams during the next three days,” Baldacchino explained.
The weekend event started on Thursday with a basketball clinic for youth players aged 10-18. The training camp was led by USA Select General Manager and former NCAA Division 1 and professional player Sean Kilmartin and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) director John Crawford.
“The Elite Basketball Tournament hosted a basketball clinic for youth basketball players where they had the experience to learn from top coaches coming from the USA. All players had the opportunity to meet USA Select basketball players and interact with them during the camp,” Baldacchino said.
The USA Select team comes to Malta for its second visit on the back of further exhibition fixtures in the UK against the Newcastle Eagles, Reading Rockets, and the Welsh National team. They were also part of this summer’s SADA Cup, playing against the Armenian national team which went on to take gold in this year’s FIBA Small Countries Games.
Speaking about the growth of the event, Baldacchino hopes for an even greater continuation of the tournament.
“These two years have been hard to organise this event, one because of COVID-19 restrictions and this year due to lack of sponsors. Yet, we are committed to strengthening this yearly event and next year the tournament will consist of more European teams together with a women’s edition too,” he said.
“The aim of this event is to give local basketball enthusiasts to watch high-level basketball while giving local clubs the opportunity to play against foreign teams during their preseason preparation for the upcoming season.
“Entrance will be free for all three games and we are expecting a nice crowd cheering our local teams.”
FRIDAY USA Select vs Gzira Athleta – 19.00
SATURDAY USA Select vs Hibernians BC – 19.00
SUNDAY USA Select vs Depiro BC – 19.00