The Crelan FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2022 has arrived after a three-year absence, with 40 of the world’s top teams – including the 3X3 Tall Blacks and 3X3 Tall Ferns – set to compete in Antwerp, Belgium over the next six days.
The Crelan FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2022 will feature four pools of five teams competing in both the men’s and women’s categories, all fighting to be named 3×3 World Champion; an honour currently resting with the USA’s men and China’s women teams. And for the first time, only the Pool winners qualify directly to the quarter-finals, while teams ranked second and third move on to a play-in eighth-final.
In the men’s category, New Zealand joins a loaded Pool A alongside No.1 seed Serbia as well as France, Puerto Rico and Brazil. And in the Women’s category, New Zealand have landed in a competitive Pool B, alongside No.2 seed France, USA, Austria and Brazil.
Both New Zealand teams earnt a ticket to the FIBA 3×3 World Cup after going undefeated in the FIBA Asia Qualifiers back in March. This will be the 3X3 Tall Blacks fifth time in the 3×3 World Cup, with their last run back in 2018 where they finished in 13th place. The 3×3 Tall Ferns are heading to this event for the third time, having secured a 10th place finish in 2019.
Although they carry an ‘underdog’ status heading into this tournament, 3×3 Tall Blacks star Tai Wynyard says that he believes both teams have the ability to progress far.
“Coming into this tournament, we are underdogs – we haven’t really proved ourselves on the 3×3 world stage yet,” says Wynyard.
“But we also know that going into this, teams aren’t going to take us lightly. In the 3×3 game, you can never take anyone lightly, anyone can win the game [on a given day]; the top-ranked team can lose to the bottom-ranked team.
“We’re just going to go into every game, ready to win – whether we’re down four or up four you can still lose or win – so we’re going to have what we call a ‘dog mentality’ of never giving up and constantly fighting to win.”
3×3 Tall Ferns head coach, Justine Reed believes that although her squad is playing a lot of 3×3 games in a short amount of time – with the FIBA Asia Cup and Commonwealth Games taking place shortly after the FIBA 3×3 World Cup – it does have its advantages.
“All these games are helping our players to progress really quickly as a team; it [3×3] is front of mind for them and for us as well,” says Reed.
“I think it’s going to help us so when we get to the Commonwealth Games [at the end of July] we’ll have that experience of playing together – every day we play makes us stronger.”
3×3 Tall Blacks head coach, Piet Van Hasselt says that his team has a chance to make some serous noise at this event – which is good for Aotearoa, and also for the steadily-growing game of 3×3 in New Zealand and around the world.
“Obviously the 3×3 being in the Olympics was a big bonus for the sport, FIBA are really pushing it and it’s growing steadily around the world,” says Van Hasselt.
“We’ve got a lot of people in New Zealand who play a game of 3×3 and then want to play it for the rest of their lives; we’re really fortunate to have all of our top national players show a real interest in this game, so we’re able to bring a strong team to this World Cup.”
The 3X3 Tall Blacks and 3X3 Tall Ferns tip off from 21-26 June in the Crelan FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2022. Kiwis can follow it live – and free – on the FIBA 3×3 YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/fiba3x3)
Supporters can also keep up-to-date with the results and latest standings at https://www.fiba.basketball/3x3WorldCup/2022
3×3 Tall Blacks squad – 3×3 FIBA World Cup
Men’s Schedule – 3×3 Tall Blacks
9.55pm NZT, Tue 21 Jun – New Zealand (18) vs Serbia (1)
00:25am NZT, Wed 22 Jun – France (8) vs New Zealand (18)
9:55pm NZT, Thu 23 Jun – New Zealand (18) vs Puerto Rico (9)
1:20am NZT, Fri 24 June – Brazil (17) vs New Zealand (18)
3×3 Tall Ferns squad – 3×3 FIBA World Cup
Women’s Schedule – 3×3 Tall Ferns
10:20pm NZT, Wed 22 Jun – United States (7) vs New Zealand (19)
00:25 NZT, Thu 23 Jun – New Zealand (19) vs France (2)
9pm NZT, Fri 24 Jun – New Zealand (19) vs Austria (10)
00:25 NZT, Sat 25 Jun – Brazil (16) vs New Zealand (19)