All Native Qualifying Tournament underway this week

Basketball fans will want to make their way to the Russell Gamble Gymnasium as teams battle to earn a spot in the All Native Tournament.

Basketball fans will want to make their way to the Russell Gamble Gymnasium this week as teams from across the province battle to earn a spot in February’s All Native Basketball Tournament.

The 2013 All Native Qualifying Tournament includes five Women’s teams and six Senior teams competing in a double-elimination format competition beginning on Thursday and ending on Saturday evening. The winner of the tournament is guaranteed a spot in February’s main event.

On the men’s side of things, Port Simpson and Hartley Bay will represent the North Coast against teams from Kitamaat, Gitanyow, Kispiox and Hazelton. The women’s field includes Old Massett, Port Simpson and Hartley Bay from the North Coast competing with Old Hazelton and Tofino.

All Native Tournament president Peter Haugan said it should be a great weekend of basketball action, although the tournament isn’t as big as originally envisioned.

“It’s kind of a disappointment for us because we had so many teams interested. A month ago we had 32 teams interested, but a lot of them backed out and now none of the American teams are coming,” he said, adding some of the teams will be hitting the courts in Prince Rupert for the first time.

“It’s always good to see new teams. Even Lax Kw’alaams is going to be a refurbished team with some new players.”

As well as the senior and women’s teams, three intermediate teams and three masters teams registered for the tournament and are ensured a place in with the 44 registered teams for the All Native Tournament. Intermediate teams include Kitkatla, Hesquiat from Vancouver Island and Kincolith, while Masters teams include Port Alberni, Port Simpson and Kincolith.

The Women’s final will tip-off at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 23, followed by the Senior final getting underway at 5 p.m. Individual and tournament passes are available at the door.