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Downtown hoops deemed a success

(Reprinted from the June 26, 2000
 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

Staff Writer

Participants and organizers of the Showdown at the Top of the World 3 on 3 State Championships used two words to describe the two-day event that concluded Sunday.

Slam dunk.

Smiling from ear to ear, Cliff Allison, tournament director, was ecstatic with the amount of participation and team work exhibited by the athletes, sponsors and residents who attended the event.

"Once again, the Fairbanks community comes together to help put on a great show," he said.

Allison said they have been working on this year's event for years. He credited the numerous volunteers who gave their time to make the tournament a positive experience for all.

"We couldn't have done it without the support of the community and the volunteers," he said.

Children as young as five years old participated in the tournament, according to Allison, who said the show of support from basketball fans was the most surprising and refreshing aspect of the weekend event.

"The crowd pleasantly surprised us. It was much more than we thought it would be," he said.

The effort put into the event wasn't lost on those who participated in it either.

Josh Adams, one of three high school students from Kotzebue playing, said he enjoyed playing in the tournament and would like to come back next year.

Adams, whose trip was sponsored by Coke of North America, made the trek to Fairbanks on Thursday and his team finished third in the corporate league. He said one of the highlights of the tournament was meeting Trajan Langdon, who played at East Anchorage before attending Duke University and becoming a first-round pick of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.

"It was a great experience and Coke took really great care of us," he said.

Teams from as far away as Nome joined local high school basketball standouts in the event that showcased the talents of 300 players.

The games were played on Second and Third avenues.

Participating teams paid anywhere from $120 for the corporate tournament to $40 to attend a basketball clinic. Each participant also received a T-shirt and met people at the same time.

Those who were on their own weren't left out of the festivities either, as they could take part in jump-shot and dunk contests. Prizes included cans of soda, basketballs and sipper bottles.

Shirley Winther of Coke North America, said they have been working with Allison since January to be apart of the tournament. Winther said she was pleased to be able to bring Langdon to Fairbanks and she hopes to be a part of next year's event.

"Everybody that came here said this was the best event," she said. "It was a success for everyone involved."

"This event shows the excitement of basketball," said UAF basketball coach Al Sokaitis. "And it provides a chance to come out and play in a friendly environment."

Sokaitis said the event also taught some of the kids that they can play hard and fair against others and learn something at the same time. He said the event should help to maintain interest in the sport throughout the year and that he wouldn't be surprised to see 200 teams sign up next year.

"I think this is going to encourage kids to work on their game," he said. "The more they play, the better they will get."

2000 MediaNews Group, Inc. and Fairbanks Publishing Company, Inc.

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