Australia is only just starting to embrace the short, sharp version of the sport that has taken the rest of the world by storm.
Introduced by the founders of Champions League Basketball in 2016, CLB3X3 has assembled some of country's best 3X3 basketball teams that will converge on St Kilda in Melbourne from 1:00pm AEST on Sunday, 7 May for their grand final of their 'Summer Series'. The best teams representing their state or region will take part in the invitation only FIBA 3X3 endorsed event, and will feature players boasting Australian state league experience through to those who have also played in the NBA.
To be played beside the iconic Palais Theatre, and within a short walk of St Kilda beach and Luna Park, each player and team will be playing to earn valuable FIBA 3X3 world ranking points, but also the rare chance to earn an exclusive invitation to the FIBA 3X3 World Tour Qualifier held in Mongolia in June.
Champions League Basketball (CLB) General Manager Matt Hollard was excited about the chance to assemble some of the best Australian 3X3 basketball talent in the one place, and the opportunity to raise the profile of the shorter form of the game.
"This is where the elite will meet for 4 hours, and we are very excited about the level of talent we have been privileged to have witnessed over our season and now it all comes down to this”, said Hollard.
Some of that talent Hollard referred to is former NBA and NBL player Luke Schenscher, and his former NBL team-mate Peter Crawford. Both will be taking part in the event in representing Townsville and will be two of the most recognisable names in the elite field which will include a team of future stars from Basketball Australia's Centre of Excellence.
In assessing the FIBA 3X3 World Rankings for men, Australia is currently languishing in 53rd place, well behind traditional trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand who rank 21st. With FIBA lobbying for the sport to be included for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, CLB Executive member and former Australian Opal Tracey Browning explained that Australia needed more 3X3 events and player participation if it were to be in a position to qualify a team for the Olympics should it be included.
"This is huge for our country and for the sport of 3X3," said Browning. "With a pending decision in June this year on the inclusion of 3X3 as an Olympic sport for 2020, it was vital that Australia started getting some much needed runs on the board and some representation at the highest level."
While the team from Townsvsille with boast Schenscher and Crawford, they will link with Townsville Heat (QBL) guard Tim Keating and Newcastle Hunters (Waratah) guard Cameron Springall. Together, they appear to be shaping up as a well balanced and highly experienced team - and the team to beat.
"I’m excited to be a part of the 3X3 challenge this Sunday," outlined Schenscher. "It is a great concept and one I think will take off in Australia."
Team Darwin enters the event as the highest seed but also featuring the highest ranked Australian male player in the field; Emmanuel Siriotis (#7). His Darwin side boasts high-flying American Jerron Jamerson, who is famous locally for scoring 74 in a single game last season, not to mention his highlight reel dunks. They are joined by another American, sweet-shooting combo guard Anthony Golden, who has also been lighting up the Darwin basketball scene.
Melbourne's entry also loom as one of the serious contenders, returning the core of a seasoned team of 3X3 ballers that won the 2015 Red Bull Reign (highlights) and 2016 King of the Court events. Nicholas Masunda, who last played for Melbourne in the 2016 SEABL season, once again teams up with Stefan Pomasan and Jimmy Todd, who were both more than handy performers at state league level over the past decade. Together they will be one of the early favourites, while the smoky in the field could well be the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence team with a young but exceptionally talented side.
In a boost to the profile of the event, Hollard was pleased to announce that broadcast partner Live Sport Australia would also be live streaming the event via their YouTube channel and Facebook page.
"With the level of talent we have assembled from across the country, we could not waste the opportunity to live stream the entire event thanks to Live Sport Australia across both Facebook and YouTube," said Hollard.
"Respected basketball commentators Matt McQuade and Liam Santamaria will add colour through providing the commentary and special comments. We have also been fortunate to secure the services of media personality Shura Taft to MC the event, while live music will be delivered by #DJandez. So it will be great for those watching online, but also a special event to attend for those who can make it down to St Kilda on Sunday."
Watch Live | Sunday, 7 May 2017 from 1:00pm AEST