The 2018/19 Australian 3X3 season gets underway this weekend in Melbourne's South Wharf precinct with Champions League Basketball's CLB3X3 Elite event and summer series launch.
As the pioneers for the growth of the sport in Australia, CLB3X3 is hosting their season launch event at the Melbourne Republic venue on Friday, 5 October before all the action gets underway on Saturday, 6 October nearby at the DFO South Wharf precinct car park.
Supported by DFO South Wharf, Wilson Parking and Vicinity Centres, the event will boast some of Australia's best 3X3 players who will converge on Melbourne for the Elite event, including those with international, NBL and SEABL experience.
New CLB3X3 Elite foundation teams the Southern Bobcats, University of Sunshine Coast’s USC RIP3X3 and the Hobart Devils will all be on show, while the most successful squad in Australia - Spectres iAthletic - will also feature in the men's and women's divisions.
In the star-studded men's competition, the Melbourne-based Spectres iAthletic team boast a who's who SEABL and Australian 3X3 stars. Nunawading duo Tom Wright and Andrew Steel headline the early favourites after making history by being the first Australian team to play on the FIBA 3X3 World Tour earlier this year. They are joined by former NBL and current SEABL star Rhys Carter and Jonathan Cooke. their team boast depth, international and national team experience, with Steel (1st) and Wright (3rd) making names for themselves globally.
Frankston Blues SEABL star Rob Linton will lead the inaugural Bobcats’ mens team along with former NBL player and current Blues teammate Bennie Lewis, 2017 FIBA3x3 Asian Cup bronze medalist and current Dandenong Rangers SEABL player Lucas Barker, and Geelong Supercats forward Liam McInerney, forming the core quartet of their first side.
A host of QBL stars form the backbone of the USC Rip3X3 side, with Eric McAlister, Isaih Tueta and Lance Hurdle joined by Geelong's SEABL star Kris Blicavs for their CLB3X3 Elite debut. Sydney will also be represented, with Owen Odigie, the 8th ranked Australian, joined by a talented trio of Joel Spear, Darcy Harding and Luke Jamieson. Local Big V standouts will also feature, with Corey Standerfer, Matt Fennell, Liam Norton and Jimmy Todd suiting up for CLB Melbourne.
Spectres iAthletic are certain to start as tournament favourites, with the Bobcats and USC Rip3X3 looking like possible contenders, with CLB Sydney and CLB Melbourne looking to cause a ripple of their own.
While the men's division is shaping up to be a cracking event, so too is the women's competition.
Former WNBL player and current Waverley Falcons Big V star Kelly Bowen has taken the lead for the Southern Bobcats, and will be joined by former WNBL stars Sam Woosnam and 2017 FIBA3x3 Asian gold medalist Chantel Perera. They will go up against the talented and experienced Spectres iAthletic and USC Rip3X3 line-ups, forming a trio of teams expected to challenge for the title.
In fact, the USC Rip3X3 program has sent three teams to Melbourne for their major event debut such is their investment into the sport. Their 'A' team is led by 2017 FIBA 3X3 Asian gold medalist and former number ranked Australian player Carlie Smith, who has assembled a team featuring WNBL player Steph Bairstow, Aleisha Howey and Chloe Coughlin. Along with the bobcats, they will be look to take down the iAthletic side who are led by former WNBL star Hanna Zavecz and current SEABL stars Izzy Chilcott, Keeley Frawley and Georgia Amoore.
Linton was excited about the opportunity to take up the shorter form of the sport, and looking forward to going up against some of the best 3X3 players and teams in Australia this weekend.
“Guys like Tom [Wright] have benefited from playing both forms of the game," explained Linton. "I just wanted to push myself to a new level and improve on my game, and CLB3X3 will provide that opportunity to play at an elite level.”
It was a sentiment shared by the Bobcat's Bowen.
“It is such a fast-paced, exciting game,” explained Bowen. “I really enjoyed playing it [3X3] and look forward to the challenge ahead. I have been assembling a very good team too, with Sam [Woosnam] and Chantel Perera already on board. We are going to have a really competitive team.”
Champions League Basketball General Manager Matt Hollard was also looking forward to showcasing the sport, but in particular the players who are the stars of the show.
“We have received phenomenal support from DFO South Wharf, Wilson Parking and popular venue Melbourne Public, which is owned by AFL media personality Luke Darcy," said Hollard. "This is all about the players and providing them with opportunities to play 3X3 at an elite level. We want to showcase their talents and help build them a profile. We will be very active across social media across the event in showcasing the athletes taking part this weekend."
For some, it is a first big step into the 3X3 world of basketball, but for others, it is a chance to cement their place in the Australian top 10 rankings. Inaugural Australian 3X3 head coach Dave Biwer, the architect behind the iAthletic teams, recently confirmed he would be looking to build the Australian program, with an aim to select future national teams from the top 10 ranked players despite FIBA 3X3 regulations on requiring two from the top 10.
The action tips off at 10:00am on Saturday, 6 October at Melbourne South Wharf's car park. Despite the favourable spring weather forecast, the action will still be hotter on the court.
Melbourne South Wharf Saturday, 6 October 2018 10:00am - 5:00pm
2018/19 CLB3X3 Summer Series Schedule
You can register for an event via the FIBA 3X3 Planet app or website.