New Zealand will be well represented at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Shenzhen this weekend, with a men’s and women’s team set to compete in the event.
The women tip-off on Sunday at 11:30pm NZT against Malaysia, and their second game is a few hours later at 1:10am NZT (Monday) against hosts China.
New Zealand’s women’s team consists of four Tall Ferns, who recently competed at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Head coach Leanne Walker said the quick turnaround and limited experience on the team could be a factor, but she is confident they’ll be ready to go.
“With limited experience in the 3x3 format of basketball and minimal practise time prior to our first game on Sunday, the women’s team will be aiming to learn fast and equip themselves with some basic strategies to be competitive in the Asia Cup.
“All four athletes are coming out of a successful Commonwealth Games campaign, so hopefully the momentum gained there will transfer in a few days when they hit the court against Malaysia and then China in pool play,” said Walker.
The men’s team will be looking to best their second-place finish at last year’s Asia Cup in Mongolia.
Their first game in Shenzhen is on Monday at 10:35pm NZT against an opponent TBC. Qualifying games will determine who New Zealand will face.
The men’s second game of pool play is against Kazakhstan at 12:35am NZT on Tuesday morning. Kazakhstan placed fourth back in 2017 and will be a tough challenge early on.
New Zealand’s men’s team were in Melbourne last weekend, competing in a one-day 3x3 tournament. They finished top of their pool and made it through to the semi-final before being eliminated.
Head coach Anthony Corban was pleased with the team’s effort in Melbourne, but said fatigue became a factor.
"It was great to get games - tough games - that's what we went there to do. Playing five stop clock games of 3x3 in one day was too much for us. In the semi-final we were tired, slow to react defensively on perimeter close outs. It was a great learning experience for us. You learn from failure and become a stronger group. We are thankful for the support from Basketball New Zealand with getting to that tournament.
“We lost James Cawthorn before the tournament with an ankle injury. So, Tom Allen came into the group. James has now withdrawn from the Asia Cup team and Tom Allen replaces him.”
Corban said that points differential could play a big part in whether the team advances through to the quarterfinals.
“We need to be accurate in China. You have to win one of your pool games to advance to the quarter finals, and even then, it could be a three way count back if everyone beats everyone. So, scoring lots of points in games is important.
“This year we only return with one 2017 player - Rory Fannon - the other 2017 players are all playing New Zealand NBL.
“I am happy with the group. Aaron Bailey-Nowell is a work horse; he is the ideal 3x3 player. Karl Noyer brings experience. Tom Allen is the new player to this level of 3x3, but he handled himself well in Melbourne,” said Corban.
A top-two finish in pool play is required to advance to the quarterfinals, and from that point it’s single elimination games.
The FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup runs through to May 2.
Men: Aaron Bailey-Nowell, Tom Allen, Rory Fannon and Karl Noyer.
Women: Micaela Cocks, Antonia Edmondson, Chevannah Paalvast and Kalani Purcell.
· See FIBA’s tournament website here: http://www.fiba.basketball/3x3asiacup/2018
· More basketball news at www.nz.basketball and Basketball New Zealand’s social media channels: @BasketballNZ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.