The third round of Basketball New Zealand’s (BBNZ) NZ Pro 3×3 Quest has concluded, with Aucklanders witnessing some of Aotearoa’s best 3×3 ballers battling it out at Pulman Arena over the weekend.
With 76 games played over two days between the 24 teams (12 men’s and 12 women’s) there was plenty of exciting 3×3 action on offer – and a few upsets along the way.
Day 1 Recap
In the Men’s, it was Te Kauri Pango – featuring 3×3 Tall Blacks Jayden Bezzant, Dominique Kelman-Poto, Nikau McCullough and Tai Wynyard – who were the winners, going unbeaten in five games and averaging 20.8 on the day. They took out Tinihanga 21-11 in the final game to claim victory.
For the Women’s, Puriri Mā – with Ella Fotu, Jelena Vucinic, Kendell Heremaia and Sharne Pupuke-Robati – also went unbeaten on the day, squeezing past a tough Kāhu team in the semi-finals before dispatching Team Toa Pasifika 21-13 in the final.
Day 2 Recap
Sunday saw Puriri Mā continue their domination of the Women’s group, again going unbeaten on the day but facing a tough challenge against Puriri Pango – featuring 3×3 Tall Fern Tiarna Clarke – in the final. Despite five made shots from Clarke from outside, Puriri Mā took out the 20-19 victory.
The Men’s group saw a new winner emerge, with Puawai Pango – made up of Ryan Laumatia, Josh Leger, Dru-Leo Leusogi Ape and Aidan Tonge – facing Waikato in the final, after Waikato had earlier knocked out Te Kauri Pango in the semis. Puawai Pango won the final 17-11 with a balanced scoring effort.
The MVPs from the weekend, as selected by 3×3 National Team Head Coaches Piet Van Hasselt and Justine Reed, were Ella Fotu (Women’s) and Aidan Tonge (Men’s).
BBNZ’s High Performance 3×3 Director, Nikolay Mikhalchuk says the event has already had a strong impact on New Zealand’s world 3×3 rankings after only three weeks of competition.
“Where we rank internationally is important, because the top teams automatically qualify for pinnacle events in 2024, such as the Paris Olympics and age group World Cups,” says Mikhalchuk.
“Already we’ve seen our U18 Women climb 14 places in 22nd best in the world, and our U18 Men have risen to 47 which is six places higher. If they can both be sitting in the top 20 next year – a very achievable goal – then that opens up a lot of doors for us to compete on the 3×3 world stage.”
The NZ Pro 3×3 Quest now takes a break over Christmas, returning on 28 January 2023 in Christchurch – with 12 rounds played over 6 weeks, culminating in a Finals Round in Auckland on 11 & 12 March. For details on future NZ Pro 3×3 Quest events, visit the Basketball NZ Events page at https://nz.basketball/whats-on/
NZ Pro 3×3 Quest schedule (2023):
Jan 28-29 | Cowles Stadium, Christchurch
Feb 4-5 | Eventfinda Stadium, Auckland
Feb 11-12 | Cowles Stadium, Christchurch
Feb 18-19 | Pulman Arena, Auckland
Feb 25-26 | Cowles Stadium, Christchurch
Mar 11-12 | Eventfinda Stadium, Auckland