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Hoop dreams: Wheelchair-bound athletes hit Bklyn court for national b’ball tourney

Ballers: Athletes from across the country will descend on Dyker Heights to play in a national wheelchair-basketball tournament Saturday and Sunday.
Brooklyn Paper
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These ballers are rolling into glory!

Wheelchair-bound athletes will hit the court at a Dyker Heights private school for a national basketball tournament this weekend, where the competition is so hot, sports fans can smell it, according to the tourney’s head organizer.

“What they do is amazing in its intensity,” said Jeffrey Mohl, vice president of sports marketing for the city’s promotional arm, NYC and Company, which is hosting the competition. “You’ll smell the rubber.”

Players on eight teams from across the country, including squads from California and Washington, D.C., will compete in the 17th-annual Matthew Sapolin Memorial Wheelchair Basketball Tournament at Poly Prep Country Day School’s luxe Seventh-Avenue gymnasium on Oct. 14 and 15.

Of course, locals will want to cheer on the Brooklyn Nets, a National Wheelchair Basketball Association affiliate of the borough’s like-named professional club.

Aficionados of the beloved pastime’s bipedal version will instantly recognize the sport’s wheeled variant. The two games share virtually identical rules and are played on the same regulation courts.

But when it comes to sheer physicality, passion, and ferocity, the chair-bound ballers might just have the edge, according to Mohl.

“The thing that really surprises people is they’re going full speed,” he said. “They crash into each other, flip over — it’s really high contact.”

Check out the tournament at the Poly Prep Country Day School gymnasium [9216 Seventh Ave. between 96th Street and Washington Drive in Dyker Heights, facebook.com/sapolintournament] Oct. 14 10:30 am–7 pm; Oct. 15, 10 am–3 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:54 pm, July 9, 2018
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