Three Gray Bees Sizzle in Dubai


Marcus Ottey

Obed Narcisse

Many student athletes participate in large scale tournaments to improve their skill and learn to perform at a high level under pressure. But, a select few get to travel across the world and compete with other great athletes. Over the summer, three St. Benedict’s varsity basketball players traveled to the Arabian peninsula and competed against some of the nation’s most talented teams and players in the FIBA U17 World Championships.

FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, hosted the event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates last August where 16 teams from across FIBA’s five zones (Africa, Oceania, the Americas, Asia, and Europe) competed for gold. UDII Arnaldo Toro (Puerto Rico), UDII Daniel Cummings (Canada), and Senior Marcus Ottey (Canada) participated.

Dubai is not known for basketball, but it is one of the leading tourist destinations in the world. It contains some of the tallest buildings in the world, exquisite hotels, and modern skyscrapers. The official and dominant religion of Dubai is Islam. Approximately 80 percent of the residents in Dubai are foreigners who travel there for jobs and although Arabic is the official language, English is more widely spoken. Their economy was built on oil and natural gas, but Dubai’s economy thrives on tourism, trade, and real estate.

Aside from the basketball, Dubai was a great experience for the players. Arnaldo Toro and his team visited the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall, containing over 1200 retail stores. It’s size is equivalent to more than fifty football fields. Though Daniel Cummings and Marcus Ottey did not do much sightseeing, they both acknowledged the sizzling heat. Ottey said “ It was the hottest place I ever been. It was desert heat.” In Dubai, the hottest month is August, where temperatures reach an average of 96°F. Also, between June and September, the summer months, temperatures at midday can hover around 120°F, with humidity levels around 90 percent

along the coast.

Over the course of the tournament, Puerto Rico posted a 6-1 record finishing fifth and Canada posted a 4-3 record finishing sixth in the tournament. Arnaldo Toro, Power Forward, averaged 16 points and 13.6 rebounds for Puerto Rico. Also, Marcus Ottey, Guard, averaged five points and 2.3 rebounds and Daniel Cummings, Forward, averaged 3.7 points and two rebounds for Canada.

Before the playoffs, Canada competed against Puerto Rico and lost 63-65. A crucial late game turnover by Canada opened a gap for Puerto Rico to score a buzzer beater for the win. Daniel Cummings said “It was a bad game. We should have beat them because we beat them already.”

(RED)Daniel Cummings
Daniel Cummings (RED)

Both teams fell short in their quest for gold. Canada was eliminated by Serbia in the quarterfinals, losing 64-71 while Puerto Rico was ousted by Australia in the quarterfinals, losing 52-76. “We scrimmaged with them and beat them. I feel like we underestimated them,” said Arnaldo Toro concerning the loss to Australia.

(PR)Arnaldo Torro (RED)competing  against Canada
(PR)Arnaldo Torro (RED)competing against Canada

Even though plans did not go their way, the players appreciate the chance to play in the tournament. Marcus Ottey said “I had the mode to play high tempo and hit open shots, and penetrate and create for other players.” Daniel Cummings said “It felt great because not many guys get to go to Dubai to play basketball.” Toro said “It’s good. You get the opportunity to travel the country. You get to see coaches and good players around the country.”

Marcus Ottey said “It kinda makes you feel like a pro. All the fans and pictures. It’s good to represent your country whatever way it is.” The three have grown a better bond with each other and, as Daniel Cummings remarked, they have something to talk about back at the Hive.