The Surrey-based U14 basketball team off to the Canada region finals of the Jr. NBA World Championships. Pictured clockwise from top left are coach Aman Heran with players Karan Aujla, Gurjaap Sandhu, Gurek Sran, Jaylen Lee, Rav Randhawa, Andrei Verchez, Jimmy Zaborniak and Ryson Dulapang. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

VIDEO: Junior NBA title shot for Surrey-based basketball team

U14 squad off to Ontario for Canada region tourney this weekend

A trip to the Junior NBA World Championships is on the line when a Surrey-based basketball team travels to Ontario this weekend, as part of a tournament modeled on baseball’s Little League World Series.

The U14 boys squad is off to St. Catherines for the Canada region finals, where five teams will compete for a national title.

The AthElite academy squad earned the right to represent the B.C./Alberta region after beating Calgary-based Genesis Basketball 59-45 in a June 2 game played in Edmonton.

On the girls side, a team with Vancouver-based VK Basketball will represent this region at nationals, held from Friday to Sunday (June 15-17).

The boys of AthElite train at the BC Prep gym in Newton with head coach Aman Heran.

“This is the inaugural year of the U14 world championships, and it’s set up to include 32 teams, with the world championships in the first week of August,” Heran said.

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)

Six of his eight players live in Surrey, including Karan Aujla, Gurjaap Sandhu, Gurek Sran, Ryson Dulapang, Rav Randhawa and Andrei Verchez (who goes to school at Seaquam Secondary in North Delta). They’re joined by Abbotsford’s Jaylen Lee and Burnaby baller Jimmy Zaborniak.

“This particular unit has been together since the fall, September of 2017, but the core of it has been together since the fifth grade,” Heran explained. “We’ve added a couple of pieces for this tournament, just to try to strengthen up our roster.”

Heran likes what he sees in his team.

“We have mature young men, and at U14 we have great size,” he said. “We have length from six-foot-six, six-four, a couple of six-two kids, but what really separates these guys is their basketball IQ and their compete level. It’s one of the hardest working teams we’ve ever had.”

At Brock University in St. Catherines, the West region finalists will play round-robin games against teams from four other areas of Canada – host Ontario, East, Atlantic and Prairie.

The Canadian winner will advance to the Jr. NBA World Championships, to be played from Aug. 7 to 12 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort, in Orlando, Florida. There, the boys and girls divisions will each include 16 teams – eight squads from regions around the U.S. and another eight international teams.

For that all-expenses-paid trip to Orlando, Heran believes his team has a shot at the Canadian title this weekend.

“We sure do,” he said. “Obviously we’re going to have to go through four other, you know, respectable, teams, and we’re thinking Quebec and Ontario will be our toughest challenges, and we have a team from Saskatchewan, or Saskatoon, to deal with as well as New Brunswick, but I feel Ontario and Quebec will be our biggest challenges.”

One of Heran’s go-to players happens to be his nephew, guard Rav Randhawa, a Grade 8 student at Fleetwood Park Secondary who helped get the school’s junior team to the provincial finals this season.

“He’s a guard, pretty much our combo guard – shooting guard slash point guard slash everything guard,” Heran said. “He does it all, and when we’re in a position when we need more scoring, we play him off the ball because he’s such a great shooter, and Jimmy and Andrei kind of take point guard responsibilities.”

Randhawa and his teammates are stoked to fly to St. Catherines for games that start Friday.

“It’s exciting to have a chance to represent Canada in Orlando in August, for sure,” Randhawa said. “We’re going to go compete (in Ontario) and see how it turns out.”

Heran, a co-founder and director of AthElite Basketball Academy, said the young players are “eating up the whole process” as they prepare for some of the biggest games of their lives.

“They’re being treated like NBA superstars right now by getting planes set up for them and itineraries, and they don’t have to pay for anything. They have their basketballs, their backpacks and they go.”

Tournament details are posted at worldchampionship.jrnba.ca.

 

Coach Aman Heran (right) gives instructions to his U14 basketball team during a practice at the BC Prep gym in Newton last Friday evening (June 8). (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Just Posted

Delta man charged with attempted murder after Monday night stabbing

The victim was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

South Surrey woman mastering the stuff that matters

KonMari method, developed in Japan, draws on heart connection

Four teams left standing in fight for Surrey RCMP Classic basketball championship

School squads in all-Surrey tourney prep for Friday semifinals at Enver Creek gym

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

VIDEO: Delta police officer swims 12 hours for a good cause

DPD Const. Kelly Seib was raising funds for a young North Delta woman’s brain cancer treatment

Chiasson nets shootout winner as Oilers edge Canucks 3-2

Edmonton moves one point ahead of Vancouver

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Thieves steal thousands from 140 Coast Capital Savings members

Online fraud tactics included phising and ‘brute force’ in November and December

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Man, two children sent to hospital after Vancouver carbon monoxide leak

Nine people were evacuated from the home in south Vancouver

Dog shot in foot with BB gun during cellphone sale at SkyTrain station

William Ayers, 28, is facing a number of charges after incident in Burnaby

Most Read