Jr. NBA Global Championship Attracts Stars of All Ages

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The second annual Jr. NBA Global Championship took place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, just outside Orlando, Florida, from August 4 through 11. During the week there were a number of activities for the athletes including a Disney Park visit, a morning of volunteering, and a skills challenge that culminated in a single elimination basketball tournament for boys and girls to decide the best Jr. NBA teams in the world.

The skills challenge included a dunk exhibition for boys and a three-point shooting competition for boys and girls. In the dunk exhibition, players had two tries to slam the ball in any way they wanted. The winner was US West team’s Quinton Webb (above) of Highland, California, who dunked over three people. In the girl’s three-point contest, US Midwest’s Gracie Barnes (below, third from left) from Batavia, Ohio, won, while in the boy’s bracket, Krisjanis Aboltins (below, third from right) from the Europe & the Middle East team won the three-point skills competition.

Most of these athletes currently playing competitively in high school and could go on to have successful careers in college and possibly play professional basketball. Mo Bamba of the Orlando Magic and Breanna Stewart of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm offered their advice to the rising stars.

“The biggest challenge they will face when going from high school to college is when you get better, so does everyone else, so keep trying your hardest,” said Stewart (below, second from left).

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Added Bamba (above, second from right), “From high school to college there is a pretty big difference in physicality, and the NBA goes up even more. So it’s a big jump to make between the levels.”

In the tournament there were 16 teams competing in both the boys and girls championships. The international teams competing were China, Asia Pacific, Europe & Middle East, India, Africa, Latin America, and Mexico. The U.S. squads represented the Southeast, Midwest, Northwest, Central, Mid Atlantic, West, South, and Northeast.

In the boys’ global final the US West team beat Africa 70–61.

In the girls’' global final, the US Central team dominated Canada, winning 72–35. In attendance at the finals were NBA Commissioner Adam Silver along with retired stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dwyane Wade, and Grant Hill.

Before the two championship games took place, all of the competitors came together at the closing ceremonies to cap off a week of celebrating the Jr NBA competitors.

The weeklong celebration was best summed up by Victor Ivan Verdugo Ramirez of Mexico who said, “I think that meeting the players from around the world was really cool.”

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