From left, former Tamanawis Secondary students Sukhman Sandhu, Parm Bains and brothers Sukhjot and Navjot Bains play basketball with the University of Fraser Valley Cascades in Abbotsford. (submitted photo: Dan Kinvig/UFV Athletics)

BASKETBALL: Surrey pals help power Abbotsford university team on winning streak

In a possible Surrey first, five Tamanawis school grads – four players and a coach – are with UFV

In a Surrey-to-Abbotsford pipeline of basketball talent, five former Tamanawis Secondary standouts are fueling the program at the University of Fraser Valley.

The men’s Cascades team has motored to fourth place in Canada West division standings, with a 8-4 record during the current winter break, thanks in large part to the efforts of Tammy-schooled players Parmvir (Parm) Bains, Sukhman Sandhu and brothers Navjot and Sukhjot Bains (no relation to Parm Bains).

What’s more, the squad’s assistant coach is none other than Manny Dulay, another Tamanawis grad who excelled for the Cascades during his five-year career there, ending in 2017.

“It’s interesting, what’s happening at UFV, and I’m one of the biggest fans of it,” Dulay said of the Cascades’ Tamanawis connection. “I couldn’t be more proud of where Tamanawis has come and what UFV is doing, and if you told me back in 2012, my first year at UFV, that after I gradated there’d be four Tamanawis players on the team at once, I would have probably called you crazy, but yeah, somehow, some way, that worked out.”

Dulay figures it’s a Surrey first to have four players from the same high school on the same team at the U Sports level.

Navjot Bains is the eldest of this Surrey-raised foursome, and close pals Sukhjot, Parm and Sukhman all played on the Tamanawis team that made it to the quad-A provincial final four in 2014.

“It was awesome,” Parm, 22, recalled of that high school tourney, “but it was a bitter ending because we were expecting to win it. We were ranked number one and we were winning pretty much every game up until provincials, so it was a bitter ending when we lost in the semi-finals, but overall it was a great experience there, you know, playing with your best friends.”

Parm, a five-foot-10 guard, played for other local college teams before he took a one-year break. In late 2017, encouraged by Navjot, he returned to student-athlete status with the Cascades, and currently leads the team in points per game (15.2).

“This will be my second year, and it’s going well, for sure,” Parm said in a recent phone interview. “I think it’s just been coach Adam (Friesen) has been real confident in me and allowing me to play my game, and you know, just putting in a lot of work, it’s been translating.”

Parm said he enjoys having Dulay on the bench.

“He’s really good and understands the game really well,” Parm explained. “It’s a pleasure learning from him, because he was a point guard, too, and a really smart one, and he always has really good advice, always positive.”

In a peculiar player-coach relationship, fifth-year forward Navjot Bains is a year older than Dulay, who is 24.

“It’s kind of interesting, yeah,” Dulay said. “Having Nav there brings back the memories of playing sometimes, some of the games we played together. I still tell him that he has to call me Manny, he doesn’t call me coach,” he added with a laugh.

Today, Dulay coaches the junior boys at Tamanawis, and last summer married Harleen Sidhu, a Fleetwood Park grad who went on to play basketball at both the University of Nebraska and UBC. Together, the pair run XV Training Academy in Surrey.

“We coached at an academy before, and we met through that, just really close friends, and then that blossomed into a marriage,” Dulay explained.

Years ago, Dulay recalls watching Parm, Sukhman and Sukhjot play the game, as juniors.

“I’ve known these kids for awhile,” he explained. “I mean, I wished they came right out of high school so they could have played when I was playing (at UFV), but each of them had their own path there, and they all tried different things. It’s crazy how life works, but somehow, some way, it happened. The thing is, they’re all best friends, and sometimes teammates just say that so it looks good in the media, but those three, especially, they’re actually best friends. Like, when I’d go hang out at Nav’s house, I’d always see Parm, Sukhman and Sukhjot together, and it’s amazing to see three best friends not only playing on the same team, but also starting together, it’s unbelievable.”

At UFV, Dulay finished his career third all-time in Canada West for three-pointers made (242) and led the nation in threes as a senior (78), but says he can’t take much credit for leading the other Tamanawis grads to the university.

“Obviously I know that I might have made an impact on them – you know, done something to influence them to come,” Dulay said, “But they all earned it, and coach Adam has wanted them since they were in Grade 12, and I know that because we’d talk about it all the time when I was playing, trying to get all those guys to UFV.”

On a seven-game win streak, the Cascades return to action on the weekend of Jan. 4-5, in a pair of home games against Brandon. The team’s schedule is at gocascades.ca.

“We definitely have bigger goals than just making playoffs,” Parm Bains insisted. “We do want to contend for a championship and go to nationals, for sure.”

Noted Dulay, in a separate conversation: “We’re on a seven-game win streak, so we gotta hopefully ride that wave.”

For Dulay, the connections to his former high school don’t seem to end.

“I trained a lot of the senior players over the summer, and then Harleen’s younger brother, Jeevan, is pretty much their best player,” he said. “So he’s my brother-in-law – just more connections with Tamanawis, right.”

Meantime, Tamanawis will host its Holiday Invitational tournament from Dec. 27-29, in the gym at 12600 66th Ave., Surrey. The McElhanney-sponsored event involves seven teams, including 13-time Washington State champ Garfield High School of Seattle, plus local teams Fleetwood, Charles Tupper, Pitt Meadows, Burnaby South, Centennial and the home-court Tamanawis squad. The schedule is posted at tamanawisbasketball.com.

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Manny Dulay during his playing days at UFV. (submitted photo: UFV Athletics)

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