New Zealand has emerged victorious from the inaugural 3×3 Trans-Tasman 8-game Series, with both the 3×3 Tall Blacks and 3×3 Tall Ferns taking home the 3×3 Challenge Plate following victories over the Australia Gangurrus.
Following a pair of wins tonight, the 3×3 Tall Blacks finish the Men’s Series with a 7-1 record while averaging 20.6 points per game (against Australia’s 16.2ppg). Their ability to shoot the outside shot proved the difference-maker in this Series; the Kiwis hitting 41 shots from downtown compared to just 21 for the Aussies.
In his 3×3 national team debut, Taki Fahrensohn was named the Men’s Series MVP; the 24-year-old leading the 3×3 Tall Blacks in scoring (7ppg) & rebounds (4.1rpg) while hitting a Series-high 15 shots from outside the arc. Taki scored a series-high 13 points in New Zealand’s huge game 3 win.
3×3 Tall Blacks captain Dom Kelman-Poto paid tribute to his squad following the Series win.
“Shout-out to the team, they worked hard this whole week and I owe all of our success to them. And thanks to Australia, we appreciate them coming out and giving us a run for our money – they played hard and physical,” says Kelman-Poto.
Denhym Brooke agreed that it was an extremely physical Series throughout.
“Yeah it’s physical but it’s all good, we enjoy it and that’s what we’re built for; we like the physicality, it’s why we [like to] play 3×3 basketball instead of 5 on 5.”
The 3×3 Tall Ferns faced a sterner challenge from the Australia Gangurru’s in the Women’s Series, only securing their Series win in the eighth and final game to finish with a 5-3 record.
The Kiwis averaged 14.75 points per game against Australia’s 12.5ppg, winning the Series thanks to their superior rebounding (19.4 boards per game compared to 16.6 for their opponents) and outside shooting – hitting 19 shots from downtown while holding the Aussies to just 9 from outside.
Playing in all 8 games, Chevannah Paalvast was named the Women’s Series MVP; the 32-year-old leading the 3×3 Tall Ferns in total points (35), rebounds (4.9rpg) and blocks (6). Chevannah had arguably her best game – 6 points & 7 rebounds – in the 3×3 Tall Ferns Series-clinching Game 8 victory.
Lauryn Hippolite joined her teammates to relishing the Series victory, saying that the final two games demanded them playing at their highest level in order to get the win.
“We just focussed on us and our game, [the Aussies] were down to three people but they’re gonna go hard to the very end; so we just focussed on ours and every day we got a little bit better – which showed in our last game.”
Paalvast added that it is always a big moment to beat Australia – one of the world’s basketball powerhouses – in basketball.
“It’s not often New Zealand gets to beat Australia [in 3×3], so when we do it’s a good feeling.”
2024 Olympics In Sight
BBNZ 3×3 Programme Manager, Nikolay Mikhalchuk says that the 3×3 Trans-Tasman Series has been a chance for both countries to play some quality games against each other.
“It’s been an incredibly important series for us as it’s helped put New Zealand on the international 3×3 map; having such a big name such as Australia Basketball playing in our country has helped open up doors for us to other opportunities,” says Mikhalchuk.
“We’ll now be working with our nations to come and play here against us in the future, other teams with different styles of play that can help our 3×3 programme continue to grow.”
Mikhalchuk says that there is hope on both sides that the3x3 Trans-Tasman Series becomes an annually contested event.
“Australia loved it, they want to come back and they can’t wait for another opportunity to take us on; they told us they enjoyed the games and how close and competitive they were, and they want to win the next Series against us.”
With the 2024 Paris Olympics in sight for the 3×3 Tall Ferns and 3×3 Tall Blacks, Mikhalchuk says that the teams will now wait to see if they have done enough to progress to the next step – the Olympic Qualifier tournaments.
“This Series for us was part of our progression into the 2024 Olympic Qualifying events, so fingers crossed that we find out soon if we’re earned enough FIAB ranking points to be invited to the next stage of qualification.”