Ahmed Ali Sets International Scoring Record, BTB Becomes Youngest Team to Participate in France Tournament




The Bigger Than Basketball (BTB) program is fresh off their first ever international trip where the team competed at Tournoi Mondial De Basket in France. Head Coach Adeel Sahibzada breaks down the trip in his own words…

Day 1


  • We touched down in Tourcoing, France at about 2PM. Ate lunch, went straight for Practice at 4:30 – 6:30. Lots of Shooting and Walk through’s.
  • Dinner at 9 PM. Slept rest of the evening.

Day 2

  • Wake up Call at 8AM
  • Practice 10 AM – 12 Noon.
  • Jet Lag is Ugly – it is 5 AM in Toronto.
  • Lunch 1 PM
  • Toured nearby city – Lille
  • Tournament Banquet in the evening.

Day 3

Game 1 Vs Belgium

  • Wake up Call 7:30 AM (3:30 AM EST)
  • Guys look sluggish, tough getting out of bed. Jet Lag is real.
  • Great start – up 25-14 at Q1, Tied 33-33 End of Half.
  • 2nd Half – Mental and Physical Breakdown – Final Score 80-54.
  • Only 1 guy in Double Figures – d
  • Ali with 13.

Game 2 Vs Serbia

  • Tip off 1:30 PM (8:30 AM EST)
  • Great Start Again – Up 15 in 1st Quarter. Down 2 (29-27) at Half, and up 48-47 End of 3rd Q, lose 75-62.
  • Guys showed greater resilience against a TOP Team.
  • Serbia ends up winning the whole tournament and this was their toughest game. They won the Finals by 30 Pts, and semi-finals by 38 Pts. Serbia won on average by 40 Pts.
  • Proud of my Guys! They worked hard!
  • Ahmed Ali with 18 and 3 rebounds. Jace Colley stepped up BIG with 16 and 5 Rebounds.
  • Out outrebounded 35-16 — needed to play an almost perfect game to beat Serbia. Got outsized at every position.


Day 4

France5 (1)

Game 3 Vs Brussels

  • Time goes forward 1 Hour – insult to injury.
  • Tip Off 10:30 AM (4:30 EST).
  • Great start – Up 16 at Half
  • Brussels makes a valiant comeback and is up 1 with 1 minute left in the game.
  • Our tendency is to fold at such adversal times. We climb back and grind a 58-50 victory.
  • Liban Mohamed was BIG with 12 and 11 rebounds, Cordell Veira with 10 Pts & 5 Rebounds & Ahmed Ali with 9 and 6 Rebounds.
  • Finally Outrebounded Brussels 48-33


Game 4 Vs Congo


  • Tip Off 2:00 PM (9AM EST)
  • Congo – super athletic and BIG!
  • We focused on raising the temperature of the game – making it a high speed contest.
  • Realized later – we couldn’t compete if the game was too fast paced. We needed to slow the game down.
  • Ahmed Ali picked up 24 Pts, 7 Rebounds, 9 Assists. Most complete game all year.
  • Cordell Veira and Jeremiah Brown both added 10 Pts each.
  • Got outrebounded 40-20.


Day 5


Game 5 Vs Belarus

  • Belarus just coming off loss to Brussels.
  • Tip off 9AM (3AM EST)
  • Tough time to play – guys woke up sluggish, got to the arena just 20 minutes before tip Off.
  • Great Start – Ahmed Ali was cookin’! 23 Points first quarter. Up 40-26.
  • 2nd Quarter – adversal times. Score is switched in favour of Belarus 67-53. Ahmed with 29 at half.
  • Cut the deficit to 8 in 4th quarter but not good enough.
  • Lost 112-97.
  • Ahmed Ali with career high 49 Points, 6 Rebounds, 4 Assists.
  • Levi Smith was also big with 12 Points, 7 Assists, and 5 steals.
  • Jace Colley added 13 Points and 3 Steals.
  • Outrebounded badly 51-21.


Closing Ceremony


  • Serbia wins the tournament Vs Belgium. Both teams were in our Pool. Serbia wins by 30 Points.
  • Ahmed Ali named to First Team All Star and leads the tournament in scoring for 2016 averaging a whopping 22.6 Pts/Per game. Games were 4 – 7 Minute Quarters (28 Minutes total). Impressive!
  • Ahmed Ali becomes the YOUNGEST player to ever lead this “international” tournament in Points Per Game.
  • He also had the tournament highest scoring game at 49, and sits at #2 (unofficial) for the most points scored in this tournament. The likes of Jamal Mashburn, so many McDonalds All-Americans, NBA Players like – Sam Dekker, Jerome Moiso, Haidari, Lopez, etc


My thoughts:

  • We were the youngest team to ever participate in this internationally renowned tournament. This was a great experience for our guys to play mens, pro teams and “C” or “B” National Teams.
  • We got out-rebounded total 194-140.
  • The European Game is mostly a game of power, shooting and size. The ball moves so much more efficiently and winning is much more glorified in Europe then individual glory.
  • Overall, I thought we were more skilled, quicker and athletic then most teams except for Congo who was the most athletic team in the tournament.
  • The European FIBA games are so much cleaner – in Canada/US, most players get away from the handchecks on ball but in Europe they call that a foul immediately.
  • Great helpside D!
  • The fans treated us to some awesome experience! Our players signed hundreds of autographs, the tournament was well promoted around the city and country and it was very well run.


My takeaways

  • The Brussels terrorist episode happened literally a day before the tournament. USA cancelled out on coming the same time.
  • For me, and us, I figured that we go and enjoy. There was no point in trying to live a life of paranoia and fear. I think we need to overcome that fear and not allow that to dictate our plans.
  • Basketball is truly a global sport, there is so much talent out there!

Its bigger than basketball…


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