Antone Araujo represented his culture well last weekend at the Northwest regional of the Jr. NBA Global Championships.
The 13-year-old from Juneau played on Alaskan Native TruGame, the only boys team in the tournament comprised solely of Alaska Natives or Native Americans. The hoopster is of Tlingit, Athabascan and Aquinnah Wampanoag descent.
He averaged 21 points over three games, the third-highest average in the tournament.
“I was just trying to help the team win,” Araujo, a rising eighth grader at Floyd Dryden Middle School, said by cellphone on Tuesday morning. “I wasn’t really going for points like that. I was just going for a win.”
After going undefeated in pool play, the Alaska team lost to PDX Elite (Oregon) 84-63 on Saturday in the championship bracket quarterfinals. PDX Elite lost to eventual overall champion Dynasty Red 2023, also of Oregon, in the semifinals on Sunday morning. The three-day tournament, played in Beaverton, Oregon, featured close to 30 different teams from six different states: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
“It’s been a tremendous experience,” Alaska Native TruGame coach Archie Young said via the Jr. NBA Twitter. “I’m not sure all these kids have been out of Alaska — most have — but just coming here and getting to see this kind of environment, this level of play, I think has been pretty eye opening for our kids.”
🗣️ Archie Young, Head Coach of Alaskan Native TruGame (Boys), talks about the journey his team has taken to get to the Northwest Regional as the only Native American Boys team in the field! #JrNBAGlobalChampionship pic.twitter.com/zSW1xArNXQ
— Jr. NBA (@jrnba) June 22, 2019
Araujo led the team with 22 points in the quarterfinals loss, thanks in part to an efficient day at the free-throw line (7 of 9) and beyond the arc (3 of 6). In pool play on Friday and Saturday, TruGame defeated Deny Basketball, 70-64, and Cascade Hawks, 78-43, both of Oregon.
“I thought Antone had a good showing down there and put his best foot forward and I think there were definitely some other guys on that team and throughout the Alaska TruGame program who did the same,” Antone’s dad, Todd, said.
Araujo practiced with the team for five days in Anchorage before heading to the tournament. It was his first time playing with those teammates.
“It was the longest eight days ever,” Araujo said. “Five days of practice and then three days of tournament play. It was an amazing experience.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.