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3x3 Tertiary Championships tip-off this Sunday in Christchurch

3x3 Tertiary Championships tip-off this Sunday in Christchurch
Another trip to China to represent New Zealand on the international stage is up for grabs this weekend, with the UTSNZ 3x3 National Championship taking place in Christchurch this Sunday. 

All eight New Zealand Universities will compete in this FISU and FIBA endorsed event, with the winning men’s and women’s teams heading off to Xiamen in November this year.

The carrot of an international trip has certainly helped all of the universities put more resources into their preparation for this tournament. The basketball scholarship program that Lincoln University runs paid off in a big way for them last year, with both LU teams winning their respective final. 

Basketball Scholarship Manager at Lincoln University, James Lissaman, says he expects the Lincoln teams will have a big target on their backs, given the extreme success the program had last year in both genders. 

“The LU teams have been training very hard for this competition, knowing the chance to represent New Zealand is on the line again, and every other team will be wanting the opportunity just as badly.

“There are a lot of high level players on both sides of the competition, with most of them being very familiar with the structure of the game thanks to BBNZ’s 3x3 Quest Tour. The high level of variance in how teams perform from game to game means we are almost guaranteed to see some upsets on the day – but all teams know once the playoffs start at 2:15pm, they can’t afford any mistakes,” says Lissaman.

Three members from each of their victorious 2017 teams back are again to defend the titles. In the women’s tournament, Ajiah Pepe and Connie Poletti will be most well-known by the end of the year, due to their inclusion in the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats. From the men’s, Ben Bowie, and the two Williams brothers, Ben and Josiah, fresh off an excellent showing in the BBNZ 3x3 Quest Tour final will be looking to forget their close loss there with a championship in Christchurch.

Otago and Auckland offer a compelling storyline, with brothers Samson and Samuel Aruwa donning opposing colours when their universities face off at 2pm. 

2018 BBNZ Quest Tour Champion, Zac Easthope will provide a ton of interior muscle and 3x3 knowledge for his Auckland team. Canterbury fans will get a chance to see Canterbury Rams squad member and former Junior Tall Black Josh Aitcheson, who will be playing with Samson for Otago University.

The University of Auckland’s women’s team will once again be built around the multi-talented and New Zealand rep’ Breana Jones, whose team unexpectedly fell in the semi-finals last year. Canterbury will feature the two Wairau sisters (Laken and Sapphire) who, like their LU counterparts, also play for the defending WBC champions.

 The Canterbury Men feature some interesting players – with Konrad Tota being the oldest player in the competition, and having experience playing 3x3 in Europe, while the namesake of late former owner of the Canterbury Rams, John ‘Buzz’ Watson, is back playing basketball in Christchurch.

This is another 3x3 basketball tournament that is adding to the 3x3 hype. Now that 3x3 is an Olympic sport, with international travel and exposure on the line for these young athletes, Lissaman says he can see the step-up in professionalism each year.

“From year to year we’ve seen 3x3 strategies evolve, as players and coaches learn the best ways to maximise their chances of winning. What was once solely a game to be played in parks, and as a practice tool for regular five on five basketball, is now a legitimate standalone game. Most of the players will have their skills readily transfer across the two disciplines, but it will be the teams with the greatest understanding of how to play the 3x3 game, that will have the best chance of success on the day,” says Lissaman. 

Entry is free at Cowles Stadium in Christchurch, with the first round of games scheduled to tip-off at 10am on Sunday 8 April, and the finals tipping off at 4pm, and 4:15pm. Mai FM will also be running their Slam Down Challenge from 10am until 12pm, with a $100 prize up for grabs.