New Zealands pinnacle 3x3 basketball event of the year, the Burger King 3x3 World Tour Qualifier, tips off this Saturday on Aucklands waterfront at The Cloud.
This Saturdays event is the finale of the Burger King 3x3 Quest Tour, where teams in the mens open grade will compete for the right to represent their home town at the FIBA 3x3 World Masters in Japan this July.
Each team has qualified for this Saturdays tournament by either winning their hometown event during the Burger King 3x3 Quest Tour, or placing highest within their region.
One player well known to the 3x3 circuit is Karl Noyer, who played for New Zealand at the FIBA World Championships in Russia in 2015, and is also a member of the winning teams of the Burger King 3x3 Quest Tour in 2015 and 2016. His team for 2017, Team Auckland, will feature this Saturday and Noyer says they have worked hard all summer with a goal of getting to the FIBA World Masters in Japan.
"We are really looking forward to Saturday. The Burger King Tour is a bigger event this year and I can feel there is a lot more competition. Quite a lot more of my friends are playing on other teams, theyre good and everyone is keen."
Noyers team played in six of the previous 14 tour stops this summer, having featured in Whangarei, North Auckland, Rotorua, South Auckland, Tauranga, and Hamilton. Noyer says they came up against some great talent, but they managed to win two of those, in Whangarei and Rotorua. He says winning the World Tour Qualifier this year is going to be tougher than previous years.
"Our draw isnt too bad. Obviously we want to do everything we can to win it, but we havent had the best run in terms of the Burger King Tour, with some losses. Its great though, because 3x3 is growing so fast. Even in the Burger King Tour, from last year to this year, theres a lot more teams involved. On a global level, there are more countries involved and its harder to get into World Champs. Also the United Sates have really stepped up in the sport lately, taking it seriously. And theres a lot of talk about the 2020 Olympics, which is incredibly exciting. Im sure there are a few people on court with an Olympic dream," says Noyer.
The 2016/17 Burger King Quest Tour began last November and has travelled around New Zealand to find the finalists for the World Tour Qualifier event. Basketball New Zealands 3x3 Manager, David Huxford, says people should come and watch to get a taste of this fast paced, street-based version of basketball.
"Every year it just gets better. The atmosphere at this event will be pumping and the athletic ability on display is really impressive. These are big guys with sharp shooting accuracy, lighting quick reactions and some pretty intimidating defence at that level.
"With an all-expenses paid trip to represent their town and country on the FIBA Masters Tour, this Saturday is a big deal, these guys have a lot to play for. They wont hold back and that makes for a great spectator sport. Whats more, its free, so if anyone is looking for something to do this weekend, get down to the Cloud on Saturday."
For those who cant attend, the event is going to be livestreamed live and free on
. Huxford says the basketball world will be watching to see how New Zealands talent is looking, as other nations will be scouting ahead of the World Tour and possibly the Olympics.
"We will find out if 3x3 is confirmed as an Olympic sport in 2020 when IOC makes their announcement in June. Weve been directing our 3x3 programme towards this, so were waiting for the announcement with baited breath. But its looking positive. And I know a lot of the guys playing on Saturday are already dreaming of becoming an Olympian."
Saturdays event will also see opportunities for other age groups to take to the court, with grades for boys and girls under 15, under 17, under 19, and Open womens. Registrations are filling fast for those events.
To enter the final two Burger 3x3 Quest Tour events, Huxford says players must be registered on 3x3Planet.com to enter.
The World Tour Qualifier Final (Open Mens grade) will tip off at midday, with the final being played at 4:45pm
Teams and Players:
- Team Auckland: Zac Easthope, Nick Fee, James McLeod, Karl Noyer
- Team Auckland North: Tom Allan, Ben Castle, Adam Dunstan, Zac Fitzgerald
- Team Auckland South: Marco Alexander, Patrich Bolstad, Taki Fahrensohn, Conor Flanagan
- Team Christchurch: Derek Albertsen, Taylor Britt, James Cawthorn, Nick Erwood
- Team Hamilton: Okesene Junior Ale, Sanchez Amato, Mark Pledger, Boyd Scirkovich
- Team Manawatu: Jordan Epere, Reggae Hymers, Jesse Iro, Akira Marsters
- Team Rotorua: Timothy Easthope, Wesley Hunia, Rore Neho, Hemi Neho
- Team Tamaki: Rory Fannon, Sherif Hassan, Anthony Jones, Connor Woodbridge
- Team Tauranga: Cameron Couper, Chris McIntosh, Zaine Oti, Mike Becker
- Team Waikato: Reid Andrews, Philip Borota, Taylor Hamlin, Joshua McKee
- Team Invercargill: Christian Alberton, Ashton McQueen, Callum O'Connell, Laine O'Connell
- Team Wellington: Nico Buckrell, Jamal Mikaio, Christopher Porteous
When: Sat 25 Mar 2017
Where: The Cloud, 89 Quay Street, Auckland
Time: The World Tour Qualifier Final (Open Mens grade) will tip off at midday, with the final being played at 4:45pm. The first rounds of the other age-groups will tip off at 10am.