Team Precision Movement (PM) held off the challenge of seven of the other top men’s 3x3 teams in New Zealand to claim the 3x3 Quest Tour Open title on Saturday. In addition to the national crown PM also earned the highly sought after prize of an all-expenses paid trip to China for the 3x3 World Tour Masters in Chengdu in June.
Played at the YMCA Auckland City, on Saturday, the final was a tight affair throughout with the more experienced PM quartet holding off a spirited challenge from Team Squidies (TS) to win an exciting contest 21-17.
Team Squidies was made up of varsity students Josh Aitcheson, Samson Aruwa, Darcy Knox (all Otago University) and Samuel Aruwa (Auckland University) and they made the early running to lead 5-4 . The athletic Dane Brooks and solid Zac Easthope edged PM ahead but with Samson Aruwa a pest in the paint and brother Samuel driving to the hoop TS were still in the contest at the five minute mark trailing 12-9.
PM captain, and number one ranked 3x3 player in the country, Karl Noyer broke the game open with a dagger 2 pointer with three minutes left on the clock to extend his team’s lead to 17-13 but opposition skipper Aitcheson replied with a bucket and a pair of free-throws.
Just when an upset looked a possibility veteran Aaron Bailey-Nowell stepped up to make four of the last five points in the game to seal a tight but deserved victory for the defending champions that won the title in 2018 and 2016.
Bailey-Nowell was delighted with the performance but also paid tribute to the performance of Team Squiddies.
“Honestly they are a very good side, I thought throughout the tournament they really showed that they could play physical basketball. Having played them in pool play earlier (won 22-15 by PM) I thought they would be tough opposition in the final and they sure did push us to the limit.”
The Taranaki forward is known for his combative style of play and that was on show in the final.
“It’s been my forte throughout the years and as I’ve transitioned from the NBL to 3x3 I’ve noticed it suits my physicality. I know how to get to my spots and get my shots off. I was happy with the way today went and shows age is not a barrier sometimes,” he said with a wry smile.
“It was nice to have my family here – my wife Lissa and the three children – it’s probably the first time that they have been together to watch me as a group. I definitely played for them today,” said Bailey-Nowell.
PM captain Karl Noyer is in no doubt about the value of having Bailey-Nowell in his line-up.
“He’s a baby bull as you can tell, he just gets to the hoop and scores. He’s really strong and can get his opponent off balance and make the layup. He can also shoot the two-ball so that makes him a handy player to have.”
Noyer also praised the contribution of Dane Brooks appearing in his first tournament for the champions.
“Dane’s athletic, he can shoot and get rebounds and he was the hustle guy we needed to play defence on their best player to make it hard for them. He did an awesome job.”
Looking ahead to the trip to China, Noyer already has some plans in place to prepare for the World Tour Masters.
“Those of us in Auckland play every Monday night in a competition at Birkenhead College. We’ll probably have training camps in Taranaki as well for the two boys based down there,” Noyer added.
Earlier the two finalists eked our hard fought semi-final victories. Team Precision Movement overcame the Chris McIntosh led BC Astana 21-17. In the second semi-final Team Squiddies beat Christchurch champions AKL, captained by Karl Magon, 21-18 in the battle of the South Island Champions.
BC Astana beat AKL 21-17 in the third/fourth play-off game.
Teams that competed on Saturday with win-loss record in pool play.
· POOL A
· Team Squidies (Dunedin) 2-1
· Team Dax (Auckland) 1-2
· Team Authentic Ballers (Tauranga) 0-3
· Team Precision Movement (Auckland) 3-0
· POOL B
· Team Ballers (Auckland) 0-3
· Team Toa (Wellington) 1-2
· Team AKL (Christchurch) 3-0
· BC Astana (Auckland) 2-1
3x3 Quest Tour Schedule, 2019:
• Sun 20 Jan Auckland-West The Trusts Arena, Henderson, Auckland
• Sat 2 Feb Tauranga Harbourside Netball Centre, Blake Park, Mt Maunganui
• Sat 9 Feb Wellington Odlins Plaza, Wellington Waterfront
• Sun 17 Feb Dunedin The Octagon, Dunedin
• Sat 23 Feb Christchurch Hagley Park Netball Courts
• Sat 2 Mar Auckland- North Eventfinda Stadium (formerly NSEC), North Shore
• Sat 9 Mar Auckland- QUEST FINAL* Auckland City YMCA, Pitt Street
* This final event is the World Tour Qualifier Final and is only open to the Open Men's Grade teams that qualified at one of the preceding six regional events.
• Follow the event on Basketball New Zealand’s Social media accounts on @BasketballNZ via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter