Local basketball team competes on Final Floor court before collegiate athletes

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A basketball team compromised of cancer fighters and survivors will be hitting the hardwood on Friday morning. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A basketball team compromised of cancer fighters and survivors will be hitting the hardwood on Friday morning. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

This weekend is all about basketball, but the players in the spotlight aren't just competing for a national championship. Athletes are also tearing up the court to fight cancer.

"There's one thing that's all in common with us, but when we're all together, we don't even notice it," said athlete Melissa Kovalesky. "We have a lot of fun together."

The Phoenix native is one of seven Hardwood Heroes this year, a basketball team compromised of cancer fighters and survivors. Five of them are from Phoenix. 

"It's incurable, so I'll have it forever. It'll always be something that's there," Kovalesky said.

She said she is battling chronic myeloid leukemia, but right now it is undetectable, meaning the treatment is working.

"Every four months, I have blood work, and that is incredibly scary," Kovalesky said.

But on this court, no one is treated like a patient. They'll be competing against last year's Houston team on the new Final Four court before any collegiate players even smell the fresh paint.

[Special Section: NCAA Final Four in Phoenix]

"It's going to be challenging because everybody's going to want to soak it all in, but we still have to play," said J. Dee Marinko from Oklahoma.

Their coaching team is impeccable, with Boe Ryan of the Wisconsin Badgers, and University of Arizona legend Miles Simon. Simon tells us his grandmother and father both fought courageous battles against cancer.

"It's something that means a lot to me, to see how strong these people and the fight they have put up with throughout their lives," Simon said.

"Life is just a crazy ride, and you know you can get through anything as long as you have the support, and everybody on this team is a warrior and a hero," Kovalesky said.

They will be playing Friday at 10 a.m. at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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