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My ultimate gaming experience: The biggest NBA2K tournament in the Middle-East

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WTLC’s Ali AlShowaikh tells the tale of one man’s journey to help bring the love of pro basketball to Bahrain.

It’s good to be back at WTLC.

It feels nice but weird at the same time. I haven’t written about basketball since almost 3 years ago. Did I give up on writing articles in general? Or did I give up on watching basketball? It’s none of those. I was always on track in terms of following the NBA and specifically the Oklahoma City Thunder. While watching every game, I was always reminiscing the days where I used to write about the Thunder for this blog. I Knew that the doors were always open for me for a comeback.

However, I was desperately in need of some motivation and inspiration that honestly, I have never found in those past years. Fortunately, I have finally found the passion, spark, motivation, call it whatever, because of one man who is seriously impacting my life positively. This man is His Highness, Prince Isa bin Ali, the president of Bahrain Basketball Association.

I have written in the past about my experiences in organizing NBA2K tournaments in my country, and I have also written about my YouTube career that revolved around posting NBA2K tutorials in Arabic to educate the Middle-East basketball fans about the game and the NBA simultaneously. Eventually I ended my YouTube career and I stopped organizing NBA2K tournaments as well. This was because during those years, the size of our community that followed the NBA and the NBA2K game was small.

Moving on with my life, I just focused on my studies (Business Administration) at the University of Bahrain. Days, months, years passed until I received a text from my friend in June 2018.

“Ali, a huge NBA2K19 tournament will be held in Bahrain in September, and I’ve been informed that the company who is responsible for organizing the event are looking for a manager to organize this event. I couldn’t think of any other person who is an NBA2K geek other than you, are you in?”

I was extremely surprised by this message, but I definitely accepted the offer, and I was so happy that finally an official party is taking an initiative to grow the NBA and NBA2K community in Bahrain.

It turned out that the president of the Bahrain Basketball Association, Prince Isa bin Ali, is the one behind that initiative and that the following tournament would contain a prize pool of $17,000 and will be officially sponsored by NBA2K. I participated in all the meetings that was held in regards of the tournaments, I engaged in setting up the rules of the tournament, which would run from September 27-30th, and managing operationally etc. We decided to run the tournament on a basis of 3 days, quick game mode, where first place earns $10,000, second place $5,000, and third place, $2,000.

The outcome?

I was literally speechless on the first day of the tournament. The opening ceremony was on another level, we had over 250 participants in the tournament, we had an extensive media coverage, we had big companies that sponsored the tournament such as KIA, Sony, NBA2K and many others.

The first thing that came into my mind was, “Ali were you sleeping in those past years when you quit everything? Are you sure the NBA and NBA2K community in Bahrain is small?”

The basketball community in Bahrain has been revolutionized when Prince Isa Bin Ali was assigned as the president of Bahrain Basketball Association.

Luckily I had the opportunity to spend some time speaking to the president, and I informed him about my vision in terms of how we can improve the basketball community in Bahrain, and whether it is possible to have an NBA 2K E-league in Bahrain. I also told him that I cover the Thunder for SB Nation here at WTLC. I was really surprised that he is a person who is extremely knowledgeable about basketball in general and the NBA as well and follows SB Nation. Moreover, he is seriously considering launching an NBA2K E-league in Bahrain in the future, and he is also focusing on enlarging the basketball community. I was later on approached by his secretary who informed me that his highness would like to read my posts about the Thunder.

Two months later, I received a call from the Association informing me that they would like me to work with them in organizing Bahrain’s All-Star event that will be held on December 16-17th. The event includes skills challenge, 3-point contest, slam dunk contest, and FIBA 3 x 3 tournament.

I have always been looking for someone who would value my passion about writing about the NBA and enlarging the basketball community in Bahrain, I never thought that this man would be the president of the Association himself, but that man turned out to be him, and I am grateful for that. I am currently working with the Association in organizing the following event.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Bahrain’s Basketball Association and its president for their continuous effort towards growing the basketball community in Bahrain. I would like to also thank WTLC for always keeping the door open for me for a comeback.

Stay tuned for Bahrain’s All-Star 2018 coverage and my upcoming posts that will be related to the Thunder.