Sixty-three teams will compete at the 2017 Secondary Schools 3x3 National Slam being played in Tauranga over three days this week, beginning on Thursday.

In all four grades the 2016 champions will be defending their titles.

The senior girls title was won by Hamilton Girls High School (HGHS) last year and they will return expecting the biggest challenges to come from local rivals St Peters School Cambridge, Westlake Girls High School, Aquinas College and Massey High School.

Riva Walker-Pitman and Koha Lewis are likely to be key for HGHS and the same can be said of Charlisse Leger-Walker and Ella Bradley for St Peters.

Rangitoto College Blue, winners in 2016 and 2017 rightly carry top seeding into the Senior Boys competition and will be led by forward Zack Te Puni who was outstanding last year. 2016 beaten finalist Westlake should be in the play-off mix as should the strong looking Palmerston North Boys High School team led by Junior Tall Black centre Callum McRae. Dark horses could be Rongotai College and Wanganui High School.

Rongotai College was worthy winners of the Junior Boys title at Trusts Stadium last year and coach Chris Tupu will be hoping his charges can repeat that success this time around. The other top four teams from last year, Rosmini College, Rangitoto College and Wanganui Boys will return to challenge the team from the capital.

Twelve months ago Westlake Girls High School carried off the Junior Girls trophy beating Hamilton Girls High School in the final. There will be 10 other teams wanting to avert a repeat match up with St Marys College, Ponsonby and St Peters the likely party poopers. Kavanagh College, flying the flag for the south island, will also be hoping for success.

The Slam supports the growing popularity of 3x3 basketball and also helps develop and identify talent for international events such as the FIBA 3x3 Under 18 World Championships and the FIBA Oceania Under 18 Championships.

New Zealand has competed very successfully on the world stage in 3x3 and the players in Tauranga will be hoping to impress national selectors keen that New Zealands reputation on the international stage is maintained.

This competition is also FIBA endorsed, so all players must have a 3x3Planet.com profile and will receive FIBA ranking points for participating. By joining the FIBA 3X3 Planet, players will be able to compare their skills with your friends and even with pros on the international circuit. The more events they play, the more ranking points theyll receive. Players can register here and should remember their login details for the event.

The 3x3 Slam runs from this Thursday through to Saturday.

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