The first piece of the 3X3 Schick Cup puzzle will fall into place this week with teams set to select their captain for the coming national event.
Dubbed the 'Captains Weekend', all teams will have from 9am Saturday August 7 to 6pm Sunday August 8 to select a captain from the list of players registered for the Player Drafts, which takes place on Wednesday August 25.
Once signed, the captain will then be responsible for making three selections at the Player Draft to form the team's four players to contest the 3X3 Schick Cup.
The top five teams at the Schick Cup will progress to the Schick Christmas Classic in Auckland.
As expected, teams have remained tight-lipped on who they intend to sign as a captain, but let's rub the crystal ball and see if we can successfully line a few potential captains up with teams.
Remember Hyrum Harris, Alonzo Burton, Taylor Britt, Dom Kelman-Poto and Taane Samuel are unavailable for selection as they have all been named in the 3X3 Tall Blacks team to play against Australia at the same event. Details HERE.
Tickets to the 3X3 Schick Cup are on sale now - click HERE.
This one remains a bit of a mystery. Jordan Hunt, who played for them last year, will be on their radar, as will Brayden Inger, while Chris McIntosh is a recognised 3X3 specialist. Zach Riley and Dontae Russo-Nance are yet to register and could be late flyers ahead of Captains Weekend with both set to be in the mix if they do register.
Prediction: Jordan Hunt
HAWKE'S BAY HAWKS
Ethan Rusbatch is the front-runner to captain the Hawks, but some consideration must also be given to Derone Raukawa as well. Hard to see both players not being offered a contract to captain a team, so expect a number of teams to be in contact with the highly rated duo. Raukawa was a standout at last year's Schick Cup and is sure to again be a leading player.
Prediction: Ethan Rusbatch
Denhym Brooke seems a likely candidate to lead the Bulls after his breakout Sal's NBL season with the Pukekohe based team. Dane Brooks is also available and is recognised as a strong 3X3 player, while perhaps Derone Raukawa will receive a call to gauge his interest in running with the Bulls.
Prediction: Denhym Brooke
A couple of players immediately jump out in the form of Kenneth Tuffin and Jordan Hunt, or the Saints could spring a surprise and chase the likes of a Brayden Inger or Derone Raukawa. Expect the unexpected, but either way the Saints will go chase the best player possible.
Prediction: Kenneth Tuffin
Hard to see Brayden Inger not being hotly pursued by the Sharks, while Derone Raukawa might also be receiving a phone call. Johnny Helu has just come off a good debut season in orange and has all the attributes to be a top 3X3 player, and maybe the likes of Mike Karena might get a call to sound out his interest.
Prediction: Brayden Inger
Sam Smith looks the ready-made captain for the Rams, but he might face some competition from Mike Karena and Quintin Bailey. And if the Hawks grab Derone Raukawa, don't be surprised if Ethan Rusbatch gets a call from the Rams.
Prediction: Sam Smith
A number of players come to mind when looking at the Airs - Derone Raukawa, Tai Wynyard, Quintin Bailey and Carlin Davison. Maybe even Kenneth Tuffin given he played for the Airs at the 2020 Showdown. Whichever way they go, the Airs have been active and could spring a surprise.
Prediction: Derone Raukawa
The newest 3X3 team on the block is the complete unknown, but Karl Noyer immediately jumps out given his experience in this form of the game. Some of the Auckland-based talent would also be in the mix, including Denhym Brooke, Anzac Rissetto and Chris McIntosh.
Prediction: Karl Noyer
It seems highly unlikely that the Giants look any further than Sam Dempster, who is one of the most respected hoops leaders in NZ and was a force at the Schick Cup last season. With a number of Nelson locals registered for the coming season, it will be interesting to see if other teams come knocking for the likes of Tom Ingham and Nic Trathen.
Prediction: Sam Dempster
The Nuggets may choose to go local with their captain with Josh Aitcheson or Richie Rodger jumping out, or they could swoop on former Nugget (albeit briefly) Tom Ingham or Kenneth Tuffin. It wouldn't be surprising if they have put in a call to Mike Karena as well, who looks a good fit for a team like the Nuggets who love to build around a big centre.
Prediction: Richie Rodger