The finals of the 2015 Red Bull Reign 3×3 competition were held in Melbourne over the weekend, with the ‘Wolves’, a team of three Melbourne University Big V teammates, taking out the title and the $6,000 first prize to share.
The one-day basketball extravaganza was the third of its kind this year, with competitions held in Perth and Sydney prior to the finals in Melbourne.
The winning teams were invited to Melbourne to compete for the overall prize, the trophy and all the glory that comes with winning.
3×3 basketball has been gaining traction in recent times, with the newest adaption of the game attracting fans and players alike with its shorter format and fast-paced game play.
Never heard of it? You soon will.
The rules are more like a game of pickup than actual basketball, with the game played on a half-court with one ring and single 10-minute period all that is needed to find a winner.
One point is awarded for what is usually a two-point basket, while two points are given for a make from beyond the three-point line.
If one team misses, players from the opposition need to clear the three-point line – or ‘take it up’ as it is commonly referred to in the backyard or school playground – before they can shoot at the ring themselves, while a whistle will see defensive players ‘check’ the ball – or hand it to their opposite number – before play resumes.
International competitions use a 12-second shot clock and if a team scores 21 points before the end of the allotted 10 minutes, the game is over, however neither of these rules was in play at the Red Bull Reign.
After a gruelling day of preliminary round competition, eight teams were left standing ahead of the elimination-style finals series.
The four highest scoring teams of each pool were those that progressed, with a disregard for wins and losses ensuring teams would always be looking to score as quickly as possible, making for a fast and open game.
The final eight consisted of a diverse range of basketballers from around the country and even overseas, with the likes of ‘Salads’ (Perth winners), ‘Hubic Pairs’ (Sydney winners) and ‘Beast Mode’ (from New Zealand) all qualifying.
‘East Coast Swag’, consisting of former NBL legends Lanard Copeland and Darryl McDonald, the latter’s son and Big V player Derrick, and fellow Big V player Brad Bridgewater, failed to qualify for the final eight, much to the disappointment of many fans.
‘Alabama Slammers’, featuring former NBL import and league MVP Corey ‘Homicide’ Williams, were the dominant force through the preliminary stages and were deserved favourites heading into the finals, kicking things off with a tough 13-8 win over ‘Beast Mode’, sending the Kiwi boys packing.
Perth winners ‘Salads’, featuring a foursome of SBL stars, were up next against ‘Achy Blakey Hearts’, consisting of Sherbrooke Big V teammates, and the WA boys stayed alive with a tight 12-9 victory.
‘Team Whot’, another of the favourites for the prize featuring Big V veteran Luke Egan and company, took on undersized outsiders ‘One Hunna’, led by rising Big V player David Schaffert, and despite being a lopsided matchup on paper the former were forced to work hard for an 11-7 win.
Finally, Sydney champions ‘Hubic Pairs’ took on ‘Wolves’, made up of three Melbourne University Big V teammates, with the local side causing an upset to advance on the back of a 16-12 come-from-behind victory.
The stage was set for the final four, with ‘Alabama Slammers’ taking on ‘Salads’ in the first semi-final. Despite overwhelming favouritism and after dominating all day, the Slammers were bundled out 12-11 in a thrilling contest, with a potentially-tying basket ruled out seconds after the buzzer.
‘Team Whot’ suddenly assumed clear favouritism for the title, however they too were left to rue missed opportunities as they fell to ‘Wolves’ 15-9, setting the stage for the finale.
After a ten minute break, the grand finalists took to the half-court. ‘Wolves’ kept their momentum going, starting red-hot and jumping out to an early lead on the back of a lights-out Stefan Pomesan, before ‘Salads’ clawed their way back into the contest, using their advantage inside to get within three late in the match.
However, the local boys were not to be denied, with Pomesan and teammate Nick Masunda coming up with big plays down the stretch to seal a 16-11 victory, taking home the trophy and the $6,000 prize to share between the team of three.
Away from the tournament, Red Bull and Spalding made sure that the day was a resounding success, keeping those in attendance entertained and engaged with music, competitions and giveaways, including opportunities to win Spalding basketballs for something as simple as making a free-throw or three-pointer.
Despite being a largely amateur competition, the Red Bull Reign provides basketball fans with an opportunity to enjoy a new format of the game they love in a fun and party-like atmosphere, and with the 3×3 gaining momentum in a similar fashion to Twenty20 cricket has done in recent years (albeit to much less of an extent) the Red Bull Reign is sure to be back bigger and better in 2016.
Check out some of the highlights from the event: