Players from across Western Canada to compete in Sask. Asian basketball tournament

After a long wait, an annual Thanksgiving weekend basketball event is back in Regina this year.

The Saskatchewan Asian Basketball Invitational Tournament, also known as SABIT, runs this weekend after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. 

The tournament began in 2003 and gradually became an annual event over the Thanksgiving weekend for many, including people who had moved away and would be home for the holiday. 

Mick Lauagan is one of the players. He’s been part of the tournament since 2004. 

“They brand you with a nickname while you play. You kind of have to earn your stripes in this tournament,” said Lauagan. 

He said he’s dedicating his game to his late friend, Leonard Mukasa Rogers, who also shared a love for basketball.

Three basketball players leap for the ball as other team members watch in anticipation
Nine teams are expected to take part in this year’s tournament. (Bernie Hernando)

Nine teams from across Western Canada will take part in this year’s five-game tournament, which started Saturday and finishes on Sunday at Regina Christian School.

Lauagan said he always wanted to play competitively in the tournament when he was younger. 

“I knew my potential, you know.… I just wanted to win,” he said.

‘A great platform to get players noticed’

“We ask the best players from each province to come out and compete in our tournament,” said Bernie Hernando, who is one of the organizers.

He also said the tournament has evolved and diversified since it began.

Players have to be 50 per cent Asian to compete in the tournament. Teams may now have up to two players of non-Asian descent. 

The tournament runs Oct. 8 and 9 at Regina Christian School. (Bernie Hernando)

With basketball gaining popularity over the last few years in the city, many players who have participated in the tournament have continued on to play in professional leagues overseas, said Hernando. 

“It’s a great platform to get players noticed and really stand out within their own communities as well,” he said. 

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