Phoenix pro basketball teams are sharing the heat with Native American NBA hopefuls in the first-ever Native American Basketball Invitational, sponsored by the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. Twenty-four teams of high school-age Native Americans representing seven tribes are participating in the double-elimination tournament, which organizer POD Productions hopes will become an annual event. "We are getting tremendous responses from Native American groups and high schools from all across the country," says POD's Scott Podleski, "so we're excited about that." Besides getting the chance to compete at America West Arena, players are eligible for college scholarships and the Native Circles mentoring program. A kickoff block party with celebrity appearances runs from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 10, at Clothing City, 1600 South 16th Street. Games take place Friday, July 11, through Sunday, July 13, at America West Arena. Tickets, $10, are available from Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444. For more information and a detailed schedule, visit www.nabi2003.com or call 602-265-2770.- Quetta Carpenter
LET'S GET PHYSICAL
Come out for a little bump and grind
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So, tough guy, Sunday flag football in the park is a little too wussy for you, huh? We suggest you try out for the Cave Creek Critters Rugby Club -- no pads, full-contact, and straight to the bar once the game's over. Joe Freedman, the rugby enthusiast who's organizing the team and hoping to get the Critters into the Arizona Rugby Union for next year's season, is hosting a Critters social for current and prospective players at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 12. Come to the Buffalo Chip Saloon, 6811 East Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek, to get a taste of the team's character. For more information, call 602-735-3999 or visit www. critterrugby.com. - Brendan Joel Kelley
Soar like a bird in Peoria
Ever watch a bird ascend a spiral staircase of air? Catch a thermal with the winged ones at Peoria's Turf Soaring School, 8700 West Carefree Highway, which offers glider rides, rentals and lessons. After a tow plane pulls your glider to cruising altitude, you and your pilot are wind-powered. The only sound you hear is "shhhhh" -- like advice from Zen heaven. The air is cooler at 5,000 feet, and the view is straight from God's window. Back on the ground, receive a souvenir logbook that serves as proof for those bar bets. Take the scenic tour for $85, or choose an aerobatic ride for roller-coaster drama. For safety reasons, single riders can't weigh more than 220 pounds, and two riders together can't top 300. (No offense, but even condors are streamlined.) See www.turfsoaring.com for more information, or call 602-439-3621. - Kim Toms