Coach Curtis Wooten will be banished to the stands even before the first buzzer, his Hastings Boys' High School basketballers have only just brushed their skills in the 3x3 format, it's costly and the senior A side will face big dogs St John's College (Hamilton) first up tomorrow.

So why is Wooten leaving for Tauranga this afternoon to compete in the annual Basketball New Zealand Secondary Schools 3x3 National Championship?

"It's a fairly new sport in New Zealand ... but it's grown in popularity around the world," he says of the championship which has only run for five years, mindful youngsters could tap into it even internationally.

A reason why HBHS shied from it before is because they compete in seven tourneys in a year so the costs add up at about $1500 a team.

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HBHS' venture may rub off on other schools, such as Napier Boys' High, although Wooten stresses many non-powerhouse schools are competing.

However, Wooten plans to take a senior A and senior development sides next year and their junior equivalents.

But tomorrow he will have experienced players who benefited from some tips from Taylor Corp Hawks coach Zico Coronel last Monday night.

Wooten had his ears on the ground, too.

"It was a joke but Zico said to me and a few boys, 'Oh good, you get to carry the water bottles'," he said, revealing Hawks player Isaiah Jones-Mitchell backed it up with a player perspective two days later.

"There are definitely some areas in New Zealand where 3 on 3 basketball is really big but Hawke's Bay isn't one of them."

He is disappointed Bay schools aren't warming to the format when last year was the best time to go. He suspects it has something to do with the province's isolation because other regions with more schools seem to be thriving.

This year's nationals at ASB Arena have 105 teams from 47 schools, a 66 per cent leap from 63 teams from 31 schools last year.

HBHS senior A team Henry Ah Funny (left), Joshua Tarrega, coach Curtis Wooten, Devante Miller, Jershon Tatana and Tuehu Spooner. Photo/Warren Buckland
HBHS senior A team Henry Ah Funny (left), Joshua Tarrega, coach Curtis Wooten, Devante Miller, Jershon Tatana and Tuehu Spooner. Photo/Warren Buckland

Some HBHS pupils had the money but they're disappointed because Wooten didn't think they are "the right fit".

HBHS DETAILS

Pool B

HBHS Senior A: Devanté Miller, Tuehu Spooner, Jershon Tatana, Joshua Tarrega, Henry Ah Funny.

Tomorrow: 9.40am St John's (Hamilton), 10.40am Palmerston North Blue, 1.40pm Te Puke, 3pm Northcote (Auckland), 4.20pm Kavanagh (Dunedin).

Thursday: 9.40am St Peters, 11am TKK Tane, 1.20pm Scots, 2.40pm Rosmini Red.

Pool C

■ HBHS Junior A: La'mour Spooner, Denim Tuala-Fata, Kane Collier, Kael Walker-Hohipa, Tzar Smiler.

Tomorrow: 10.40am Tai Wananga, 3.20pm Rongotai, 5pm Fraser.

Thursday: 10.20am Te Puke, 11.40am St Thomas A, 1.40pm Rotorua B.