Auckland University and Lincoln win Tertiary 3x3 Champs and trips to Worlds

Auckland University and Lincoln win Tertiary 3x3 Champs and trips to Worlds

The UTSNZ 3x3 National Championships wrapped up last night at Cowles Stadium in Christchurch, with Lincoln University (LU) winning the women’s title and University of Auckland winning the men’s.

The victory was especially rewarding for Auckland University, after being the men’s runners-up to Lincoln University in 2017. The two rival teams met again in the semi-final round this year. Auckland suffered a 12-17 loss to Lincoln in pool play, yet Auckland tightened the clamps on defence in the semis to win 14 to 7. Otago Uni managed to top Canterbury in the other tightly-fought semi-final, winning 20 to 18. 

In the Final, Otago maximised the use of their speed as they looked to penetrate and kick, but former Junior Tall Black Josh Aitcheson and Darcy Knox struggled to get many wide-open looks, due to the quickness and size of their counterparts. Auckland’s Zac Easthope showed his improved range as he made shots from behind the arc, as well as bullying smaller defenders under the hoop whenever he had a chance. The physicality inside eventually took its toll on Otago, as Shay Graham hit two shots in a row from behind the arc to get his Auckland Uni team to 21 points with time still on the clock – no doubt washing away the regret from coming so close last year. Final score, Auckland Uni 21, Otago Uni 15.

Auckland University men’s Head Coach, Karl Noyer, was thrilled with the win and quick to praise the level of skill, as the 3x3 format continues to surge in New Zealand.

“The quality of competition was much better than last year. The games were a lot more competitive and not one team went unbeaten. To me, this is another example of how 3x3 is growing as its own sport, separate to 5x5. It was great for our men to get the win, as they were so close last year, with three of the four team members competing again today.”

In the women’s tournament, Auckland Uni were the first seed, with AUT second, Lincoln University third and University of Canterbury fourth seed.  All four made it through unscathed into the semi-final rounds, but both the third and fourth seed overcame the Auckland teams to advance through to the final.

LU looked to have the final in the bag after forcing two separate shot clock violations as part of a 9-0 run to go up 13-4 against the Canterbury. That was until Canterbury’s Laken Wairau started to aggressively shoot from deep, hitting twice to cut the lead to only four points. Lincoln’s Sophie Schrader then managed a crucial steal resulting in a two-points bucket, which fired another Lincoln  run to victory. Final score: Lincoln University 20, University of Canterbury, 13.

LU’s Captain Connie Poletti celebrated the win and is already looking to the 3x3 World University League in Xiamen, China, in November this year.

“The competition has definitely improved so much since last year, which is really exciting and challenging too. The 2018 tournament was a mental battle for us. We learnt a lot of very important lessons and are looking forward to growing and implementing them in China, when we represent Lincoln University and New Zealand later this year.”

Josh Thompson, Lincoln University women’s Head Coach had similar sentiments.

“The standard of play has jumped to another level. We lost two pool games this year and could have folded, so I’m especially proud of how the team pulled through mentally to finish on top. We’re excited to get another go on the international scene, with three players returning to China where we should be much more prepared for what we will face there.”

As was the case last year FISU (the International University Sports Federation) will cover the majority of costs for the winning teams to compete in the World University League.

The next big New Zealand Tertiary basketball event will be in October, with the full-court National Tertiary Championships on the line.

Men’s Final Placings

1st University of Auckland
2nd University of Otago
3rd Lincoln University
4th University of Canterbury
5th University of Waikato
6th AUT University 
7th Victoria University of Wellington
8th Massey University 

Women’s Final Placings

1st Lincoln University
2nd University of Canterbury
3rd University of Auckland
4th AUT University
5th University of Waikato
6th Victoria University of Wellington
7th University of Otago

Full Tournament Results can be found on 3x3 Play site: men, women