Diego Maffia steps it up for Oak Bay Bays

Diego Maffia’s abilities as a basketball player were on full display Friday afternoon at CARSA Performance Gym during the University of Victoria Vikes alumni second annual Senior Boys Invitational tournament.

The Grade 11 Oak Bay Bays shooting guard sat for most of the first half after collecting a pair of fouls to go with just two points just over three minutes in. He came out like a caged lion in the second half, quickly taking command as the No. 1-ranked B.C. quadruple-A team downed Vashon Island of Washington 73-55.

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Maffia finished with 20 points, including three three-pointers, just behind fellow talented point guard Caelan Scott’s game-high 22 points.

“I just wanted to play. I don’t like sitting on the bench at all,” said Maffia, who plays the game at an extremely high tempo, more so with his intellectual abilities than physical. He not only excels in basketball, but also in soccer and volleyball.

“It’s funny. He shoots quick and sets his feet quick. In soccer, he makes decisions quick, but he doesn’t move quick,” said Bays basketball coach Chris Franklin. “He’s very aware of time and space situations.

“He has good sporting abilities that go well beyond basketball. I think he understands the spacing and timing of sports more than most. It’s not one of those teachable skills. He’s played a lot of sports, he’s competitive and he’s analytical.”

That comes naturally from his parents, Carlos and Wendy, who both played basketball at Lethbridge Community College, where his father, of Brazilian descent, also coached.

Maffia, 16, only took up basketball a few years ago while living in Brazil. He has played at Oak Bay since attending the school in Grade 9.

“I fell in love with it so fast. It was easy for me to play, too,” said the straight-A student who wants to take his game to the United States or the U Sports level in Canada.

“I just like high tempo. I don’t like slowing down. That’s my style of play, I guess,” he said.

Maffia has also heard all the wisecracks regarding his last name, such as the badda-bing, badda-booms or the sleeping with the fishes comments in reference to the Italian mob.

“My dad always says: ‘It’s famiglia,’ ” Maffia said with a smile.

It’s his shooting abilities on the basketball floor and on the soccer pitch that make him stand out. Maffia was the leading scorer in in the Lower Island soccer league and was tied for the lead at provincials. He was also named the MVP at the Island volleyball championship.

FREE THROWS: The tournament schedule is revamped for today. South Island fans are in for a treat as the No. 1 Bays take on the No. 1-ranked double-A and defending B.C. champs from Brentwood College at 12:30 p.m. The final day opens at 9 a.m. with Vancouver College vs. Seattle Academy, followed by Vashon and North Kitsap at 10:45 a.m. Van College defeated Kitsap 79-72 on Friday and Brentwood humbled Seattle 104-50.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com

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