ABU DHABI // When the Harlem Globetrotters challenged The National to a game of two-on-two basketball, the editors looked around the office and decided two things.
First, we should make an effort to hire taller journalists. Second, if we were going to lose to professional exhibition players from the US, then we would do so in style.
So when 1.7-metre tall Thamer Al Subaihi and Mohammed Al Khan (1.8 metres) turned up for their match at Zayed Sports City yesterday, they were in full national dress, except for trainers.
"We took one look at their huge feet and decided we didn't want our toes crushed," Mohammed explained. Waiting on court were two-metre tall Hi-Lite and his teammate Buckets, who is 12cm shorter.
The men are in the UAE awaiting their teammates to perform three games on October 25 and 26 at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, and two at Zayed Sports City on October 27.
This is the 86th year for the Harlem Globetrotters, with their performances heavy on trick shots, humour and audience participation.
"It's amazing to be here and we have nothing but nice things to say about the UAE," said Hi-Lite. "We look forward to putting on a good show." If yesterday's game is anything to go by, they will do just that.
Buckets, so named for his ability to score a lot of points quickly, got the game started with a quick succession of shots that sailed over Thamer and Mohammed's heads.
Mohammed quickly decided his best strategy would be to play defence. So did Thamer.
That might be where we went wrong. With no one on the attack, the Globetrotters scored enough points to make us lose count.
But then Thamer heard some good news. "We can't go through their legs," Buckets called out to Hi-Lite.
"So there is an advantage to playing basketball in national dress after all," Thamer said. With that sliver of hope, our team rallied.
Perhaps it was the renewed confidence. Perhaps the Globetrotters were just blinded by the glare of the sun off the white kanduras.
But in a moment of glory, Thamer turned his back to Buckets and flipped the ball backwards over his head to sail through the hoop.
In the end, the score didn't matter. Or maybe it is just too embarrassing to report. Either way, both journalists said it was a game to remember.
And if they do forget, we've got it all on video.
* Reporting by Thamer Al Subaihi and Mohammed Al Khan