Australia's best performed team across the past 18 months will make a second appearance on the FIBA 3x3 World Tour, with Melbourne iAthletic set to take flight at the Penang Masters in Malaysia this weekend.
Featuring two members of the gold medal winning 2018 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup team, Melbourne will be looking to cause a major upset by winning Australia's first ever World Tour title.
Andrew Steel, Australia's number 1 ranked player, is joined by fellow Asia Cup and Nunawading Spectres SEABL team-mate Tom Wright (#3). The dynamic duo is joined by former NBL stars Rhys Carter and Tommy Greer who form a potentially fearsome combination. In their last World Tour attempt at the Utsunomiya Masters in Japan, the quartet finished 12th, a placing their have definitely set their sights on eclipsing.
In their final warm-up event before departing for Penang, Melbourne iAthletic lost the final of the 2018 CLB3X3 Season Launch Elite event in Melbourne to a talent-laden University of Sunshine Coast Rip3x3. While Wright was one of the players of the tournament, Steel was also super-impressive, and with Greer returning to the side in place of Jonathan Cooke, it arguably provides the team with greater experience and flexibility.
In what proved to be one of the most talented and competitive domestic Australian 3X3 events on record, the CLB3X3 Melbourne South Wharf event provided a perfect platform from which to best prepare for the level of competition they will face in Malaysia.
At stake in Penang is a potential place in the World Tour final, with the top 12 ranked teams earning a berth at the event. Both Ralja Intergalactic (Serbia) and Delhi 3BL (India) have 80 points in the World Tour Standings and need 40 points to overtake Belgrade for the 12th spot, provided that no team outside the top 12 standings win this Masters. The teams outside of the top 12 standings are; Tokyo (Japan), Donguaan (China), Taoyuan (Taipei), Kranj (Slovenia), Tachikawa (Japan), The Hague (Netherlands), NY Harlem 3Ball (USA), and Melbourne iAthletic.
Melbourne iAthletic open the event against last year's World Tour winner Zemun (Serbia) in Group C, before tackling Delhi on day 1. It will be a tough ask for any one of the three teams to progress to the second day of competition, comprising of the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.
Watch Day 1 and Day 2 of the event on the FIBA 3x3 YouTube channel below.
Melbourne iAthletic Schedule (all times AEST)
Day 1: Saturday, 13 October 2018 7:45pm: vs Zemun (SRB) 9:20pm: vs Delhi (IND)
Day 2: Sunday, 14 October 2018 TBC (depends on day 1 results)