After a successful 3×3.EXE Premier season in New Zealand, six Kiwi teams are today heading to Japan to compete in the 3×3.EXE Playoffs on 18th and 19th September – a 32-team tournament featuring the best teams from Japan, Chinese Taipei and Thailand.
3×3.EXE Premier is the world’s largest 3×3 league, encompassing five countries, 16 Conferences and 96 teams in total. The New Zealand division of this league featured 18 teams playing across three conferences this year; Northern Men’s, Southern Men’s and – for the first time – a Women’s Conference based in Auckland.
With the prize of a trip to Japan for each 3×3.EXE team finishing in the top two of their conference, competition was fierce this year across the country. After eight rounds of action in the two Men’s Conferences from May-Aug, and four Women’s Conference rounds between May and June, six winning 3×3.EXE teams were found:
- North Island Conference: EXE (1st) and SCAM.EXE (2nd)
- South Island Conference: UC MAROON.EXE (1st) and EXE (2nd)
- Women’s Conference: EXE (1st) and PHOENIX.EXE (2nd)
The playoffs begin on Sunday 18 September (NZT) with Session One – the Women’s quarter-finals – up first; held at the Omori Bellport Plaza. This sees Dream.EXE taking on Japan’s Tokyo BB.EXE squad, while Phoenix.EXE faces Chinese Taipei’s Taipei Chunghwa Telecom.EXE team, with winners from each game heading to the Women’s semi-finals later that afternoon.
Day 2 will see the Women’s Final being played at the Zojoji Temple – a 600-year-old temple sitting at the foot of the iconic Tokyo Tower.
Dream.EXE athlete, Sharne Pupuke-Robati says that the team is excited to be heading overseas to play in this tournament, but admits her squad is heading into the unknown as they prepare against the other teams.
“I’m really excited to be going over to Japan [for the first time], all of us on the team have been in constant communication and preparing as best as we can for the competition; as a team we’re focussed on playing hard so we can make it to the Finals,” says Pupuke-Robati.
“I’m not familiar with the squads we’ll be going up against – but from previous teams I’ve played against in the 3×3 World Cup, I know the Japanese team will be fast and they can release the ball quick from outside; so our goal is to be physical and limit their chances.”
Although this is Pupuke-Robati’s first season in the 3×3.EXE Premier league, she is experienced in the international 3×3 setting; having played with teammate Esra McGoldrick in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup Qualifiers in Doha earlier this year.
“It’s been great to play with Esra this year; we’ve played on the Whai together [in the Tauihi league] and on the 3×3 Tall Ferns squad; we’re different players but we complement each other well, she’s mobile and can both shoot and play from the post so it’s great to have her in the squad.”
In the Men’s competition, Session Two features UC Maroon.EXE – as one of the five top-ranked teams in the tournament – proceeding directly to the Quarter-finals, where they await the winner of the Shinagawa CC Wildcats.EXE versus Taichung Jiann Gwo.EXE game from the qualification round.
Session Three sees three New Zealand Men’s team in action, with Rams.EXE facing Chinese Taipei’s Kaohsiung Apex Power.EXE, Swish.EXE meeting Japan’s Zethree Ishikawa.EXE and Scam.EXE set to play Japan’s Hachinoe Dime.EXE. If the Kiwi teams can win their games, they advance onto the Men’s Quarter-final rounds – and hopefully into the Semi-finals and Finals at Zojoji Temple on Day 2.
For Zac Easthope from Swish.EXE, this will be his fourth time playing basketball in Japan, and his second in the 3×3.EXE playoffs. He loves playing in Japan, where 3×3 basketball is an increasingly popular sport.
“The [Japanese] love their basketball, especially 3×3 where you see it played outside in like a town square or inside malls, the venues are always packed out and there’s a lot of buzz and enthusiasm for it over there,” says Easthope.
“We’ve got a great team heading over this year; Karl and I have played together for a number of years now and we have a good connection on the court; Ben [Fraser] has joined us for a few internationals and it’s our first time playing with Marcus [Logan] at this level. We feel we’re all clicking at the right time and have spent the last few weeks getting ready.”
Easthope has also enjoyed a busy year in the 3×3 setting, first with the 3×3 World Tour which competed in the Philippines and also the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup; both of which he says has helped him gain additional international experience.
“The more 3×3 you play at a high level, it better prepares you for the emotions and the physicality of an event like this. We love being part of this and playing against the best players – both at home and overseas – is always the goal in any basketball setting, it’s great for us and the fans.”
The 3×3.EXE Playoffs tip off from Sunday 19 September in Japan, as six Kiwi teams vie for the 3×3.EXE titles. Details on how Kiwi fans can watch these games will follow shortly.
View team info here: https://tinyurl.com/4njy9we3
View the full schedule here: https://tinyurl.com/3vpv3dt3
New Zealand Schedule:
DAY 1: Sun 18 September, Omori Bellport Plaza
1.25pm (NZT) – Phoenix.EXE vs Taipei Chunghwa Telecom.EXE, Women’s Last 8
1.50pm (NZT) – Dream.EXE vs Tokyo BB.EXE squad, Women’s Last 8
6:50pm (NZT) – UC Maroon.EXE (NZ) vs (Team TBD), Men’s Last 16
8:20pm (NZT) – Kaohsiung Apex Power vs Rams.EXE (NZ), Men’s Last 32
9:00pm (NZT) – Swish.EXE (NZ) vs Zethree Ishikawa.EXE, Men’s Last 32
9:40pm (NZT) – Scam.EXE (NZ) vs Hachinohe Dime.EXE, Men’s Last 32
DAY 2: Mon 19 September, Zojoji Temple
Men’s Quarter-finals, Semi-Finals and Final: Times TBC
Women’s Final: Times TBC
New Zealand 3×3.EXE teams
- Kaleb Chamberlain
- Simon Lafaele
- Noa Price
- Tanae Lavery
- Anamata Haku
- Anthony Jones
- Zach Mckenzie
- Connor Woodbridge
- Sharne Pupuke-Robati
- Esra McGoldrick
- Olivia Berry
- Casyn Buchman
- Terai Sadler
- Vitolia Tuilave
- Teuila Faalogo
- Kendell Heremaia
- Zac Easthope
- Ben Fraser
- Marcus Logan
- Karl Noyer
- Junior James De Young
- Sam Riley
- Aidan Tonge
- Christopher Tupaea