The New Zealand mens 3x3 (pronounced 3-on-3) basketball team has been named ahead of the FIBA World Championships, to be held in Nantes, France from 17 to 21 June. This announcement follows the International Olympic Committee naming 3x3 as an Olympic sport for Japan 2020.

Aaron Bailey-Nowell (Taranaki Mountainairs), Karl Noyer (North Harbour), Angus Riley (Nelson) and Marco Alexander (North Harbour), will represent New Zealand in what Head Coach Anthony Corban says will be an exceptionally challenging event as the three man game is given more prominence with its new Olympic status.

"Theres no doubt that 3x3 has continued to rise in popularity and FIBA have thrown an exceptional amount of resource to grow their international 3x3 events. These are well produced, action-packed tournaments. The 3x3 game is fast, slick and perfect for spectators because of the entertainment factor. And with the International Olympic Committee making 3x3 an Olympic sport, international federations will surely be throwing even more weight and funding behind their 3x3 programmes."

Corban has selected the team with an eye to covering shooting, defence hustle and grit. When it comes to experience, that box is ticked through the inclusion of Karl Noyer who is fast becoming a veteran of international 3x3. Noyer first played for New Zealand at the FIBA World Championships in Russia in 2014, and again in China in 2016. He represented three Quest tour teams at three FIBA World Tour Masters events and coached the 2016 New Zealand Tertiary Team. To top it off, Noyer was also a member of the winning teams of the Burger King 3x3 Quest Tour in 2015 and 2016. Noyers contribution cannot be underestimated.

"Karl has been in this programme dating back to Moscow in 2014. His experience will be vital in this group. He is an international-class shooter and when the winning team is the first to 21 points, you need a talent that can score from outside the arc.

"Marco Alexander also has 3x3 history. He trained with the team that I took to the Gold Coast, two years ago, and I believe he is the ideal 3x3 point guard. He has been a Tall Black trialist in the past and also a development player with Melbourne in the ANBL.

"Angus Riley has been a player that has been on my radar for a few years-since I watched him play secondary school nationals-as I think he has the physique and post power game to excel in 3x3.

"Aaron Bailey-Nowell brings a lot to this group: leadership, energy, hustle and as a big he can defend smaller players on the perimeter."

In Pool D, The New Zealand team have drawn perennial powerhouses USA, the highly experience Netherlands, as well as Indonesia and South Korea. Corban says he has a reasonable idea of what to expect from each team.

"USA will be quick. They will spread the floor and challenge our defenders off the ball. They like the one on one challenge and will undoubtedly bring confidence to every game. The Netherlands are an experienced team - they like to control the game speed and move the opposition defensively off the ball. Indonesia and South Korea will both play an up-tempo dribble drive-dribble pitch to outside shooter style of game. 3x3 suits their quicker players."

New Zealand will be considered underdogs, but Coach Corban says he believes his players have what it takes.

"To be a top team it takes discipline, personal accountability in offence and defence, and game management. We have 21 points to defend in a game, so its a case of not allowing our opponents easy buckets. We need to run shooters off the three point line and face guard all box outs. Of course we need to make our free throws and find the defensive weakness. We need to punish opponents into fouling - if we get them to six team fouls as quickly as possible, it becomes a two free-throw penalty. This is what makes winning 3x3 teams and that is why it is such a great basketball format."

Much of that will be what Coach Corban has been drilling the New Zealand team with since they started training together last month, yet his challenges as a 3x3 coach isnt helped by players being in demand during the NZ NBL season, plus players being unavailable due to the New Zealand Select Camp and Tour to China later this month. Still, 3x3 is where Coach Corbans heart lies and he says the three aside format is getting better every year.

Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive Iain Potter says the organisation has been building 3x3 in New Zealand for many years in the belief that 3x3 would eventually become an Olympic discipline.

"Basketball New Zealand was an early adopter of the 3-on-3 game, which means we already have a good structure around this discipline of basketball. We hold two World titles in the Under 18 age group, winning in 2011 and 2015. We've also been running a national tour for the past four years thanks to Burger King sponsoring the sport. For the last two years the Burger King 3x3 Quest Tour has sent a team away to a World Tour Masters event, the professional leg of 3x3.

"3x3 also opens the doors to a whole new group of basketballers who may not necessarily excel or strive to be part of the traditional five-aside game. In a similar way to rugby sevens, I think we're going to see a lot of new faces representing NZ in international events.

"It is especially pleasing to see the IOC has given an equal number of player slots to the female teams as well. 3x3 is a game that works well for both genders," added Potter.

Mr Potter says the Burger King Quest Tour, which travels throughout New Zealand every summer, continues to draw more and more young and experienced players back into basketball. The tour gives players from nearly every region in New Zealand a chance to play in a 3x3 event and consider how they can improve to step up to the international 3x3 level.

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand