New Zealand’s newest basketball competition is taking centre stage next week (12-14 Nov) with 20 teams (10 men and 10 women) battling it out for the Schick 3X3 Cup at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill.
Five sessions are set to be played from next Thursday, with the two title winners being crowned late Saturday night. There’s only a 17-minute turnaround between games in each block, meaning the action will fast, furious and physical!
All 20 sides featuring in the inaugural tournament have named talented rosters in their bid for national bragging rights. With plenty of stars on show, let’s take a look at some of the best!
Ethan Rusbatch | Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks
It's been quite some time since we last saw Rusbatch on court. The sharpshooter missed the recent Sal's NBL Showdown due to a lingering foot injury, but the former NZ Breakers guard looks primed and ready for this competition. Expect Rusbatch to be right in the thick of the action - though it's a different form of the game, he'll be keen to remind ANBL onlookers that he remains a candidate they should be considering for future gigs.
Hyrum Harris | SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks (pictured)
Harris looms as the most likely MVP of this event given his dynamic ability to do it all. Though you won't see him constantly threatening from deep, Harris will bring an attacking mentality that will make him extremely difficult to stop. Add in his aptness to drag down rebounds and dish off a swag of creative assists, Harris is the one player every other team will fear. He's also a player the national selectors will be eager to see, such is the regard he is held in as a future 3X3 star.
Derone Raukawa | Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks
Raukawa will be at his best in this environment, his turn of speed and ability to constantly change up his shot will make him a handful for all opponents. Following a thrilling Showdown campaign, where he made the All-Star Five and ranked third in the coaches votes for the competition's MVP, along with leading the average points and assists per game, Raukawa finds himself in a quality Hawks team and will thrive on the smaller court.
Karl Noyer | Steelformers Taranaki Mountainairs
Noyer is one of the top-ranked 3X3 players in New Zealand and has loads of experience in this format of the game, arguably more than any other player in the country. But how will his unquestionable 3X3 skills match-up against some of the top Sal's NBL players? It's going to be an intriguing battle every time Noyer is on the court. Look for his high 3X3 IQ and experience, it's sure to catch a few opposition players napping.
Jayden Bezzant | Property Brokers, See Me Media Manawatu Jets
Bezzant will lead the Jets and will be a key player to watch. His knack for keeping his dribble alive, changing the tempo and attacking the basket with aggression will be valuable assets, while his deadly shooting from range will ensure the Jets are right in the contest in every game.
Marcel Jones | EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls
Arguably the best all-round player at this event. Jones is a tireless worker; he'll get after the rebounds and happily shoulder the scoring load. Jones is a genuine go-to player and excels in one-on-one situations. The Bulls will be hoping their star recruit can adapt to the 3X3 format quickly and bring his elite basketball repertoire to the table. He'll be one of the best out there if he gets going quickly.
Jordan Hunt | First National Real Estate Auckland Huskies
Hunt is one of New Zealand's most exciting young players. He enjoyed a massive Sal's NBL Showdown campaign, which ended with the Grand Final MVP in the winning Nuggets championship team. Extremely smart around the basket, Hunt's ability to work with his guards, especially off the pick & roll, makes him a dangerous player at this event. Also, look out for his long-range shooting, it's a strength that all opponents must respect.
Sam Timmins | Otago Nuggets
Timmins is another player with past 3X3 experience, and it will come to the fore when he steps out for his hometown Nuggets. A premier rim protector, Timmins looms as a force inside the paint and will be a tough match-up, especially for smaller forwards. The Nuggets have surrounded Timmins with shooters, so don't be surprised if the rising big man is prominent on the boards and loads up on assists.
Tom Ingham | Tasman Suns
The 3X3 format is one that should suit Ingham perfectly. The Suns playmaker has a wide skill set and as evidenced at the Showdown he is welcoming an increased role. Athletic and tenacious, Ingham can deliver from the outside as well as get to the cup. He'll carry a large workload at this event, which he will no doubt savour.
Taane Samuel | Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks
Samuel is the third Hawks player in our top 10, highlighting the strength of the Hawke's Bay team. Samuel enjoyed an outstanding Showdown campaign and will come into the 3X3 arena with plenty of confidence. As another forward who has worked hard on his outside shooting, Samuel is certain to test opposing big men. If he sees enough of the ball in a star-studded team, Samuel could be one of the very best players in Invercargill.