San Juan, Puerto Rico: Both the Australian men’s and women’s teams have qualified for the FIBA 3×3 World Cup to be held in Amsterdam June 18-23.
Coming into Day Two, the women held a 2-0 record while the men recorded a 1-1 split, falling to host nation Puerto Rico in a hard-fought, physical game.
With only the top three place getters qualifying for the World Cup, the second day of competition was vital for both teams.
The women began day two action at 1:50am AEST against Estonia, where they won comfortably 22-8 to finish atop their pool with a 3-0 record.
The men then faced Romania in their last pool game, and with a 22-10 win, the Australian’s finished in second place in Pool B to advance to the next round.
Next, the men faced Italy in a crossover game in what was a crucial game, given that the loser would be knocked out of the tournament. Fortunately, the Australians defeated the Italians 21-12, to set up another clash with Puerto Rico, whom they lost to 21-17 in the pool stages in what was possibly the game of the tournament.
With the Australian women sitting atop their group, they would advance straight to a qualifying game against Brazil. From the get-go, Rebecca Cole and Alice Kunek began to wreak havoc on the Brazilian defence, with Kunek connecting on multiple triples and Cole looking unstoppable off the dribble. The Australians would go on to prevail 21-3 in a dominant display, booking their spot in the World Cup.
Next up, the men faced a huge test, facing the host nation Puerto Rico once again in front of a passionate home crowd. With Andrew Steel having to sit out the remainder of the tournament due to a groin injury sustained in the crossover game against Italy, the Australians would have to play out the tournament with no bench relief.
Similar to the first game, the size and physicality of Luis Hernandez troubled the Aussies, as he had his way down on the low-block, seemingly scoring every time the Puerto Ricans could create an isolation opportunity.
Meanwhile, Tom Wright and Tim Coenraad we’re firing back from the perimeter, with Wright continuing to impress as one of the premier players at the tournament.
The physicality was high in the contest, with players from both teams needing to play through a lot of contact. Even with the referees looking to let the game flow, both sides reached double digits in fouls as the physicality continued to grow throughout the game.
In what was a highly physical match-up, players from both teams began to fatigue, but with Steel unable to play, the Australian’s were left to battle the entire game, eventually falling 21-18 in a cracking game of 3×3 basketball.
With the Puerto Ricans punching their ticket to the World Cup, the Australian men would now face the Czech Republic in a do or die game.
The fatigue was evident early on, with the intense game against the Puerto Ricans having wrapped-up less than an hour earlier. However, the Australians rallied thanks to a barrage of threes from Tim Coenraad, seeing the Australian’s eventually come away as victors 21-11.
The win seeing the Australians as the last team to book their place in the World Cup, capping off a highly successful tournament for the Aussies.
With both the men and women now set to compete in the World Cup and with the impending inclusion of 3×3 basketball in both the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, the tournament was a vital step-forward in Australia’s quest in becoming a strong 3×3 basketball nation.