Publish Date: Friday, 13 November 2020
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The game of 3X3 in New Zealand will take a leap tomorrow night when the nation’s first NBL 3X3 event tips off at 6:30pm (Thursday, 12 November). The Schick 3X3 Cup was conceived by Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) in the organisation’s drive to lift the presence of 3X3 and see it gain further traction in New Zealand.  Ten men’s and ten women’s teams, featuring most of the NBL teams from throughout New Zealand, are descending on Invercargill to compete for the national titles.

Like BBNZ, FIBA and many other national basketball federations are prioritising 3X3 as their next big hook for more participants. Currently 3X3 basketball is more popular than ever, probably because it’s easy, fast, only needs one hoop, and requires fewer people with simple rules – it’s simply a game that fits in around our increasingly busy lives.

The growth of 3X3 isn’t lost on the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In June of 2017, with support from FIBA, the IOC announced 3X3 would be recognised as an Olympic sport for Japan in 2020 [now scheduled for 2021].

The admission came only six years after the first FIBA sanctioned world-title tournament and was a reflection of the rapid rise in popularity the basketball’s shortened format. The number of FIBA-endorsed events has grown substantially in the past two years – there were 4423 official tournaments in 2018 and 7327 in 2019 (+66%). Figures for events directly organised by FIBA went from 62 to 91 (+44%) in the same time frame.

In terms of coverage, according to FIBA, roughly 1.5 billion households across 100 countries cast their eyes over basketball’s quickest format. This comes as no surprise though when you consider the 2.2 million followers @FIBA3X3 has over various social media channels.  

Those fond of that first competition, which was the FIBA Under 18 3X3 World Championships, will know that a Kiwi side took home the gold medal. New Zealand has gone on to claim a number of international titles.

Around the same time, Basketball New Zealand launched the community-minded Quest Tour, women’s 3X3 started, and regional Associations started looking at local events. These, along with international success, have helped build the legacy of 3X3 in New Zealand.


  • Quest Tour

3X3 events had been running across the world for years before FIBA organised and oversaw its gatherings, but the 3X3 Quest Tour was the first official 3X3 flag on New Zealand soil.

The series was launched in the summer of 2013 and now features nine stops which see organisers travel up and down State Highway 1, setting up shop Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, New Plymouth and Dunedin. It offers a one-day event for a range of ages and both genders. Winners of the open men’s grades are invited to the last stop – finals.

The finals gather the country’s best teams from each region and offer the victor a spot at a FIBA 3X3 World Tour event.

The tour is santcioned by FIBA, meaning playing can build there international ranking points

Up until this point, 6581 players from 1832 teams have played in 3862 games from 2013 across 66 stops. The 2020/21 season is set to tip-off on 12 December, with the first leg taking place in west Auckland at The Trusts Arena.

  • Secondary Schools 3X3 National Slam

Basketball’s participation numbers have grown leaps and bounds over the past decade, with youngsters all over Aotearoa looking for and taking opportunities to dribble a ball on a court. The increase in demand forced competition organisers to come up with new ways to give enthusiasts a chance to play and from that, Secondary Schools 3X3 National Slam was born.

The first 3X3 Slam was staged in 2014 and has grown from a 41-team competition to 52 across two different grades – elite and open. Like the Schick Secondary Schools National Championships ‘AA’ and ‘A’ groupings, the elite section is predominantly made up of the country’s bigger schools, while the open section caters to schools with smaller rolls.

In 2019 there were record team entries for the secondary schools’ nationals, 128 teams. 2020 was set to break that until COVID-19 saw the event cancelled. 

  • 3x3.EXE

Kiwis are also taking part in the world’s largest 3X3 league, the 3X3.EXE Premier. It encompasses 12 conferences across four countries, including Thailand and Korea. It was launched in Japan back in 2014 and has grown from seven teams locally to 72 teams from federations.

New Zealand makes up two of the 12 conferences - the North Island Conference, based in Auckland, and the South Island Conference, based in Christchurch. Each conference is made up of six teams and plays eight rounds – rounds consist of a full round-robin followed by semi-finals and a final.

After the eight rounds, the top two teams (from each conference) are invited on an all-expenses-paid trip to Japan to play in the 3X3.EXE Premier Finals.

The 2019 season was New Zealand’s first in the global competition and a huge success with the calibre of talent going head to head and the erratic results each week.

Five teams would end up travelling to Asia for the finals following the withdrawal of a team from another country. Swish.EXE had the best finish of the Kiwi lot after finishing third – the top three finish earnt them a $7200 payday and an invitation to play in a similar tournament in Korea.

The 2020 season was cancelled in all nations due to COVID-19.

National teams’ success

As previously mentioned, New Zealand’s first major achievement on the international stage was in 2011 following our Under 18 Men’s victory at the first World Championships in Rimini, Italy. Three-quarters of the team was made up of current Tall Blacks in Isaac Fotu, Reuben Te Rangi and Tai Webster, plus James Ashby, and they prevailed over Bulgaria 19-18 in the final after wins against the Czech Republic, Serbia and Italy during the knockout stages. 

Just four years on from the success at the inaugural tournament, our Under 18 men doubled our countries World Championship total by regaining the crown in Debrecen, Hungary in 2015. Tall Black Tai Wynyard took home MVP honours and was the leading scorer in the big dance with eight points as he and team-mates Matt Freeman, Sam Timmins and Nikau McCullough outlasted Argentina 20-18.

2018 was perhaps our most fruitful year in basketball’s shortened format, with our senior women and Under 18 men claiming their respective FIBA Asia Cups. Micaela Cocks was named the Most Valuable Player of the competition in Shenzen, China following her strong display prior to the playoffs and clutch actions in their semi-final win over reigning title-holders Australia and the hosts in the grand finale. She celebrated the 14-11 win played alongside fellow Tall Ferns Chevannah Paalvast, Kalani Purcell and Toni Farnworth.

The Under 18 men also took on China in the final outing of their championship in Cyberjaya, Malaysia. They went into the decider with an unblemished record and capped off a stellar weekend by scoring 22 points with two minutes on the clock.

The Under 18 women couldn’t quite notch the same outcome as their male counterparts, but their second-place finish was and still is the age group’s best at an Asia Cup.

Despite an in-tournament injury to Penina Davidson, the 3X3 Tall Ferns managed to compete without a sub and win bronze at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup Qualifier in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Micaela Cocks, Kalani Purcell and Chevannah Paalvast were outstanding to secure a place the Women’s FIBA 3×3 World Cup in Amsterdam. There they manged a respectable 10th placing, claiming two wins over Indonesia and Ukraine. 

Among the recent positive results was the performance of the Under 18 women at last year’s World Cup in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Spearheaded by Tall Fern Charlisse Leger-Walker, the age-group side fell one hurdle short of a gold medal with a loss to the USA in the tournament’s last game. Before the final showcase, the Kiwis had notched five straights victories after falling to the eventual champs in their first fixture.

Schick 3x3 Cup - Further information