Eight of the top men’s 3x3 teams in New Zealand will compete in the 3x3 Quest Tour Open Final on Saturday. The prize for the winners will be an all-expenses paid trip to China for the 3x3 World Tour Masters in Chengdu in June.
The teams that have qualified for the Quest Final, being played at the YMCA Auckland City, have done so through six regional tournaments played throughout New Zealand during the past two months.
Defending champions Precision Movement, that also won the title in 2016 and 2018, will start as favourites. The trio of Karl Noyer, Zac Easthope and Taranaki Mountain Airs forward Aaron Bailey-Nowell all made the trip to Japan last year for the 3x3 World Tour Masters and will be keen for another opportunity to play against some of the world’s elite 3x3 teams. Coming into the PM team for the first time is Taranaki guard Dane Brooks who replaces the injured Tom Allen.
Standing in their way in Pool A are Authentic Ballers, Team Dax and Team Squidies.
Authentic Ballers finished runners-up to Precision Movement at the Tauranga Tournament last month. The Authentic Ballers only went down 17-13 in that final and have since added Parakai Davies to its line-up. As experienced 3x3 exponent Michael Trusty said after the Tauranga event, “We will have time to work on team play and strategy before the final.”
Team Dax, the youngest squad in the tournament, will have Westlake Boys Junior Tall Black Sam Mennenga providing rim protection and guards Reuben Fitzgerald, Scott Telfer and Taine Wattie on the perimeter.
Rounding out Pool A are Dunedin champions Team Squidies led by former Junior Tall Black Josh Aitcheson. He will be joined by Darcy Knox and the Aruwa brothers Samuel and Samson, both well known to Auckland basketball fans as the two are Auckland Grammar School alumni. The Squidies have qualified in the past four Quest events but this is the first time they have travelled for the Quest Final.
Second seeds BC Astana, led by shooting guard Chris McIntosh head Pool B. Ben Castle, the rangy Adam Dunstan and Nikolay Mikhalchuk make up the rest of the Astana squad.
Team Ballers only qualified for the finals last weekend but the 2017 champions have an experienced quartet and will be fancied to progress from pool play. Mike Woodbridge saw his team home in overtime against Waikato Snipers last Saturday and expects his team will perform well in the tight games that are likely to ensue at the weekend.
“We’ve put in a lot of work together so we have confidence in each other. We have played in tight situations before and the key is trusting your defence,” he said.
Woodbridge will be joined by brother Connor, Anthony Jones and Sherif Hassan.
Hyrum Harris and Dom Kelman-Poto will both be heading to Invercargill in the coming days to link up with the Southland Sharks for the upcoming Sal’s National Basketball League.
However on Saturday they will be in direct opposition as Kelman-Poto will suit up for Christchurch champions Team AKL and Harris will be a key player for Wellington title holders Team Toa.
Harris adds size and athleticism to the trio of Kydan Parata, Randall Bishop and Hyrum Hippolite that went through the Wellington leg of the Quest Tour unbeaten.
Likewise, Kelman-Poto, coming of a season as a SKYCITY Breakers Development player, will give AKL additional potency in the paint. He joins Karl Magon, Tommy Fairbrother and Max Allin. Magon lost in the semi-final of last year’s Quest Tour season ending finale and is hoping to go a stage further this year.
“Our strategy will simply be to play hard and try and take away the key scorers from each team but it’s hard when you’re playing teams like Precision Movement when everyone can score,” said Magon.
Games will tip-off at midday on Saturday with the Grand Final scheduled for 3.45pm. Public admission to the Auckland YMCA, via the Pitt Street Gym entrance, is free.
The teams competing on Saturday:
· POOL A
· Team Squidies (Dunedin)
· Team Dax (Auckland)
· Team Authentic Ballers (Tauranga)
· Team Precision Movement (Auckland)
· POOL B
· Team Ballers (Auckland)
· Team Toa (Wellington)
· Team AKL (Christchurch)
· BC Astana (Auckland)
* This final event is the World Tour Qualifier Final and is only open to the Open Men's Grade teams that qualified at one of the preceding six regional events. No other grades will play at this event which begins at midday.
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