New Zealand seeking to make a splash at 3×3 World Cup
Although they carry an underdog status heading into the 3×3 World Cup in Belgium, 3×3 Tall Blacks star Tai Wynyard believes both the New Zealand men’s and women’s teams have the ability to progress far.
The 3×3 World Cup is back after a three-year absence, with 40 of the world’s top teams set to compete in Antwerp over the next six days.
“Coming into this tournament, we are underdogs – we haven’t really proved ourselves on the 3×3 world stage yet,” Wynyard said.
“But we also know that going into this, teams aren’t going to take us lightly. In the 3×3 game, you can never take anyone lightly, anyone can win the game [on a given day]; the top-ranked team can lose to the bottom-ranked team.
“We’re just going to go into every game, ready to win – whether we’re down four or up four you can still lose or win – so we’re going to have what we call a dog mentality of never giving up and constantly fighting to win.”
The world cup features four pools of five teams competing in both the men’s and women’s categories, all aimming to be named 3×3 World Champion; an honour currently resting with the USA’s men and China’s women teams.
For the first time, only the pool winners qualify directly to the quarterfinals, while teams ranked second and third move on to a play-in eighth-final.
The Tall Blacks are in a pool with top seed Serbia as well as France, Puerto Rico and Brazil.
The Tall Ferns have landed in a competitive pool, alongside second seed France, USA, Austria and Brazil.
Both New Zealand teams earnt a ticket to the FIBA 3×3 World Cup after going undefeated in the FIBA Asia Qualifiers in March.
This will be the 3X3 Tall Blacks fifth time in the 3×3 World Cup, with their last run back in 2018 where they finished in 13th place.
The 3×3 Tall Ferns are heading to this event for the third time, having secured a 10th place finish in 2019.
3×3 Tall Ferns head coach, Justine Reed believed that although her squad was playing a lot of 3×3 games in a short amount of time – with the FIBA Asia Cup and Commonwealth Games taking place shortly after the FIBA 3×3 World Cup – it does have its advantages.
“All these games are helping our players to progress really quickly as a team; it [3×3] is front of mind for them and for us as well,” Reed said.
“I think it’s going to help us so when we get to the Commonwealth Games we’ll have that experience of playing together – every day we play makes us stronger.”
3×3 Tall Blacks head coach, Piet Van Hasselt said his team had a chance to make some serious noise at this event – which is good for Aotearoa, and also for the steadily-growing game of 3×3 in New Zealand and around the world.
“We’ve got a lot of people in New Zealand who play a game of 3×3 and then want to play it for the rest of their lives; we’re really fortunate to have all of our top national players show a real interest in this game, so we’re able to bring a strong team to this World Cup.”
3×3 Tall Blacks and 3×3 Tall Ferns schedules for 3×3 World Cup
3×3 Tall Blacks
9.55pm NZT, 21 June – New Zealand (18) vs Serbia (1)
00:25am NZT, 22 June – France (8) vs New Zealand (18)
9:55pm NZT, 23 June – New Zealand (18) vs Puerto Rico (9)
1:20am NZT, 24 June – Brazil (17) vs New Zealand (18)
3×3 Tall Ferns
10:20pm NZT, 22 June – United States (7) vs New Zealand (19)
00:25 NZT, 23 June – New Zealand (19) vs France (2)
9pm NZT, 24 June – New Zealand (19) vs Austria (10)
00:25 NZT, 25 June – Brazil (16) vs New Zealand (19)
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