With the stage now set for FIBA 3x3 World Tour Abu Dhabi Final, organisers of this momentous finale swapped the press conference room for the basketball court today, as competing players, basketball and sports fans, and families looking for a memorable experience, get ready to experience the world-class competition on 10-11 December.
In the presence of H.E. Aref Hamad Al Awani, Secretary General of ADSC; Alex Sanchez, Managing Director, FIBA; Karlis Lasmanis from Team RIGA, media were reminded of the long-standing relationship with ADSC and FIBA and how the game has flourished across the capital because of it.
His Excellency Al Awani opened the press conference by saying: “We are delighted to be hosting the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Abu Dhabi Final here, at this impressive venue. I would like to thank Alex and all at FIBA for working with us to not only grow the love of the professional game here, but also in supporting us in introducing it to the community of Abu Dhabi.
“We are expecting a very high level of competition this weekend, with the best 12 teams competing. Having players like those from Team Riga play here, shows how we are committed to offering the best sports entertainment from across the globe, to our home here in the UAE.
“The community championship has once again proved a success with over 120 team registering to play. This was players and teams of different ages, genders and nationalities
“I know it has been a long season for them and we wish them all the best of luck this weekend,” added His Excellency.
Speaking ahead of the Finals, Alex Sanchez, Managing Director, FIBA said: “I would like to begin by saying it is great to be back here, this time at a new venue at the Yas Bay Waterfront. I want to thank the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Aref Al Awani for their continuous support for FIBA, and their help in achieving 3x3's presence in the Olympic Games, which has been a long journey for us, and we faced several challenges to make FIBA 3x3 Olympic.
“I am looking forward to witnessing the event over the weekend, the teams and the players and the teams are very excited to compete in Abu Dhabi's Yas Island,” continued Sanchez. “Finally, I would like to mention our sponsor Maurice Lacroix, our official timekeeper, launching the sustainable special edition FIBA 3x3 watches made from recycled plastic, as a result of FIBA being the first basketball event in the world to achieve the ISO-20121 certification, in addition, all the equipment used to put this venue together, will be re-used for future events, to ensure we play a role in sustainability."
Team Riga was also in attendance today, with one of their star players Karlis Lasmanis making up the top table. He spoke about his time here in Abu Dhabi, saying:
“On the behalf of Team Riga, I would like to thank Abu Dhabi Sports Council and FIBA for arranging this great event. We have visited Abu Dhabi a few times previously, and we always got a warm welcome from the community. The team is looking forward to participating over the weekend at this great venue, by the Yas Bay Waterfront.
“We have been training intensely, and the suffered a few injuries during the process, however, we are ready now, we are feeling confident, and as always, we are approaching the tournament in a very positive manner and we will make sure to secure the number one spot," added Lasmanis.
Lasmanis and His Excellency also spoke about Team Riga’s recent visits to local schools. For the Olympic Gold medalist Lasmanis, he said: “The kids were great! To be honest they were very excited and loud which made us a little nervous, but we had such a great time, and they were great fun to be around. It was an enjoyable experience and me and the team were happy to arrive here in Abu Dhabi early to meet them all.”
Echoing Lasmanis’ comments, His Excellency Al Awani said: “This is exactly what is so good about our relationship with FIBA. We are offering students this opportunity, a unique one,” continued His Excellency. “These great players will no doubt inspire this younger generation, who are the future for us and the sport.”
The World Tour Final action starts tomorrow at 4:30pm. General admission tickets are now sold out, but those interested can still purchase courtside seats here