DUBAI: The UAE national team started their campaign in style with a 3-0 win over Saudi Arabia as the inaugural edition of the NAS International Padel Championship made a perfect start at the 10th NAS Sports Tournament in Dubai on Tuesday.
Held under the theme ‘Limitless Abilities’ and organized by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the NAS Sports Tournament is the biggest event of its kind in terms of participation and prize money, and has been held every year in the Holy Month of Ramadan since 2013 at the iconic Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex.
Abdullah Abdulaziz and Faris Al Janahi put the hosts ahead after edging past their rivals in the hard-fought first set, 7-5, 7-5.
In the second set too, the UAE team were stretched to their limits, but the latter won the set 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 with Salem Al-Houli and Hamad Al-Janahi digging deep before outlasting their opponents.
Abdullah Ahli and Omar Bahrozian won the third set 6-2, 6-3 without much fuss to ensure their team’s victory.
In another Group A match, Japan edged past Qatar 2-1 in a thriller. The Japanese players started well and won the first set 6-1, 7-6. They were taken aback in the second by Qataris 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory. Stepping up the game, Japan won the decider 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 to advance into the next round of the championship.
UAE will now meet, and Saudi Arabia will face Japan. In Group B matches, Iran moved ahead with a convincing 3-0 win over Bahrain while Egypt battled past Kuwait 2-1.
Eight teams are taking part in the first edition of the NAS International Padel Championship. UAE, Qatar, Japan, and Saudi Arabia are in Group A, while Egypt, Iran, Kuwait, and Bahrain form Group B.
Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Padel Association, witnessed the matches while Abdullah Al Basti, Secretary General of the Executive Council of Dubai, watched volleyball competition.
Exciting clashes continued on the fourth day of the NAS Volleyball Championship.
Riding high on Brazilian star Felipe Airton Bandero’s super performance, Al Habtoor Motors outlasted Zabeel 3-1 (25-23, 14-25, 25-21, 27-25) in a closely contested match that kept the fans on the edge of their seats.
Al Habtoor Motors and Zabeel were neck-to-neck in the first set until the former managed to move up 25–23.
Featuring Iranian international players, Zabeel bounced back in the set, 25-14. Al Habtoor Motors beat their rivals 25-21 in the third to take the lead. Both teams batted hard in the final set, but Al Habtoor Motors prevailed, 27-25.
Airton Bandero scored 27 points for the winners, while Zabeel’s Cuban import Leonardo Martinez netted 29 points.
Brazil’s Airton Bandero currently plays for Cheonan Hyundai Skywalkers in the Korean V-League.
Last year's runner-up, Al Jawareh, posted their second victory after sweeping aside Al-Khalidiya 3-0 (25-17, 25-14, 25-19).
Al Jawareh, whose squad consists of top French, Brazilian, and Canadian players, maintained their upper hand throughout the match and won it comfortably. Da Silva Gabriel top scored for the winners with 11 points.
Former UAE national volleyball team stars Jaafar Al-Fardan and Aref Rajab emphasized the improvement of the game’s technical levels at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament and the growth in competition’s intensity with each passing year.
'This year's competition is remarkable, with famous names and professional players from around the world taking part in the championship,' said Fardan.
'The strength of the competition has seen a significant rise since the inception of the NAS Sports Tournament. I anticipate that the Emperor and Fahood Zabeel teams will reach the finals due to their large number of professional players, which reflects the strength of the volleyball championship,' said Rajab.
Elsewhere, Dubai Ambulance topped their group after defeating Dubai Municipality 28–18 in the Wheelchair Basketball Championship being held at the Dubai Club for People of Determination.
They raised their point total to six. Ability Live achieved the first victory of the tournament after beating Community Development Authority 20-12.
In Group A, the Dubai Police team continued their winning march and delivered another dominant performance, routing the Department of Finance 42–17. With this win, they raised their points tally to 8 points, followed by Al Bustan Center and Residence, who beat Dubai Electricity and Water Authority 23-20 and are on 5 points.
International referee Yacoub Ghabish, who is officiating the wheelchair basketball matches, praised the high level of competition.
'The 2023 edition is one of the strongest basketball tournaments because it features a significant number of notable players in addition to the presence of categories on each team. As a result, there is parity in all matches, and the audience in attendance enjoys this excitement. A number of games ended with a difference of one point, which is evidence of the tournament's strength and convergence of level,' he said.