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 They are no high flyers. They don’t have dazzling or fancy moves. What they possess is true grit, pure, raw talent and winning attitude to level up the intensity of action on the hard court.

“We believe that through sports we obtain certain life skills. We learn self respect, gain self esteem, and enhance our confidence and leadership abilities,” said Johnlee Donato, one of the organisers of Tropang JBC (Jafiliya Basketball Court), a group of Filipino expats playing ‘competitive’ street basketball in an open court near Satwa roundabout in Dubai.

“As expats, most of us are away from our family. But when we are on the court, we are like brothers – we are family,” added Donato, who also serves as the official photographer of the group.

The core group of Tropang JBC decided to put up a tournament last August to enhance the level of camaraderie among players living in the Satwa and Jafiliya area in an organised, competitive environment.

Six teams were formed: Green team coached by Donato; Sky Blue led by Benjie Bogal; Black managed by Jun Bermejo; Dark Blue (Arnel Cabral); White (Hermie Palma); and Yellow (Recto Talaro).

The teams were drawn at random so players who have been playing for several years found themselves teaming up with others who they barely knew. The idea, as Darwin Guimang, shooting guard of the Black team pointed out, “was designed to build rapport with your neighbours and make new friends.”

After more than a month of basketball action filled with so much jeering and cheering played on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights, the Sky Blue team of Benjie Bogal emerged as the champions; followed by the Green Team, Black, and Yellow.

“But everyone was a winner,” Bogal told Sport360°. “Everyone contributed to the success of the tournament. We didn’t have corporate sponsors. All expenses were paid from our own pockets. We practised collective leadership. After we won, we all went out to celebrate.

“This is not just for community recreation but changing social habits by providing sports to welcome our fellow expats especially those who are new in Dubai and give them a sense of belongingness,” added Bogal, a UAE resident of nine years.