North American Basketball Tourney tips-off

FAIRBANKS, Ak-Today was the start of a big basketball tournament up on the hill at the Patty Center. The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics North American Basketball Tournament.

Local and village teams from around Alaska converge on the Patty Center to compete in a deep field sometimes playing 6 games in three days. But the tournament means a lot to the people who organize it, the fans and the players.

Today I talked to a couple of players in this year's tournament who gave insight on the whole scope of this particular basketball tournament.

Thomas Hughe, who has been playing off and on for about 6 years, feels this tournament is really about the Native culture.

"In some of these villages there's not much to do in the winter time, so an outlet for that is playing basketball and it's kind of ingrained in our culture in a sense all over," Hughes said.

Tanana forward, Arnold Marks, is on on of the more favored teams to win it all but it's always tough to win and stay on top. 

"We won eight out of the last ten turnaments here but there is allways some pretty good competition usually three or four teams that are really good."

Marks also confirmed the cultural importance of the tournament.

"Its always pretty close sense of pride you know playing in front of our community just we represent Tanana and it feels good to go home and everybody gets to see us feel proud that their team wins you know so."

"Village oriented and Alaska oriented tournament where you just have people coming from all sorts of villages from all over the place and its just nice to see the kids out and people cheering the environment is great," Hughes concluded.