Toronto Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia celebrates the upcoming FIBA Men’s Qualifying tournament with Oak Bay High basketball players on Thursday. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Province gives up $350,000 for FIBA basketball tournament in Victoria

Canadian super fan, Education Minister celebrate FIBA at Oak Bay High School

A Canadian super fan made new fans of his own at Oak Bay High School Thursday afternoon.

Toronto Raptors super fan Nav Bhatia and B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming were at the school to celebrate the FIBA Men’s Basketball Olympic Qualifying Tournament, to be held at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre from June 23 to 28.

The event is one of four qualifying tournaments worldwide for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

RELATED: Tickets to watch Olympic-qualifying basketball in Victoria go on sale Friday

Fleming announced that the the province will support the world-class tournament with $350,000 through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

“It’s thanks to a hugely talented local organizing committee here… that we were able to be one of just four cities in the entire world to host the qualifiers,” Fleming said. “We have a lot of experience hosting international sporting events in Greater Victoria, we’ve got people who know what they’re doing, the economic impact is tremendous, tourism is British Columbia’s number three industry, it supports hundreds of thousands of jobs. This is just an additional boost for Greater Victoria and for our province.”

Super fan Bhatia has his sights set on Japan.

“Once we have qualified and we are in Japan, we are going to be so good,” he said. The Raptors fan has attended 900 of the team’s games and earned international recognition for his love of the sport. But basketball, he said, has power beyond the court.

“I get a lot of love wherever I go now,” he said. “And that’s what basketball has done. People don’t see turban, people don’t see colour, they just love basketball and relate through basketball.”

After the announcement, Oak Bay High basketball players took to the court to play a brief scrimmage.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay Bays scratch out a win on final day of UVic basketball tourney



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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