Photo credit: Monica Toretto
Following four days of non-stop basketball action, the BBQ Direct Canterbury Rams and Tokomanawa Queens have been crowned 3x3 Cup Champions at ILT Stadium Southland following 182 games of action across the week.
The first title of the night was won by the Queens, who dominated the competition throughout the week, succumbing to defeat just once to finish with a 10-1 record. Suffocating their competition on finals night with stout defence and an explosive offence led by MVP Stella Beck, with the entire roster contributing on both sides of the ball throughout the night.
Runners-up Waikato Wizards enjoyed a dream run to the semis, but in the end the collective talent of the Queens was too much to overcome with Jacinta Beckley, Zoe Richards and Eva Langton playing as a collective to overpower all who came their way before a bucket from women’s MVP Stella Beck clinched a 21-11 championship victory.
In the Men’s Final, the Wellington Saints got off to a quick start, as Issac Miller-Jose and Kawharu Hippolite kicked off the scoring to grab an early lead before the scoring slowed down with both teams playing tight defence. The Saints were able to tick away things on the scoresheet with a consistent attack on the rim as the Rams hunted two’s from beyond the arc with limited success.
Back-to-back twos from Kaia Isaac brought the Rams even when the score was locked at 7. The Rams then turned the screws defensively making things difficult for the Saints as they suddenly found a bit of freedom, going on a 9-2 run behind the shooting prowess of Isaac to take a 16-9 lead.
Their execution was superior throughout the week and became a focal point for the Rams as they built a large lead. Rangimarie Dougall-Mita tried to use his skill as the competitions leading scorer to bring the Saints back into the game, scoring 4 straight points to give Saints faithful a feint bit of hope. But in the end, it was MVP Kaia Isaac who was able to seal the victory with a deep two to clinch the title 21-13 for a Rams squad that had gone home runners up the year before. Only Taylor Britt and Aiden Tonge returned from that squad and both, along with Kaleb Chamberlain, were key contributors throughout the week.
The Woman’s draw on final’s night started when the Waikato Wizards held off a determined West Coast Rapids Squad that refused to be contained from deep. Terai Elia’s hustle had the Wizards on the brink of victory before a Nicole Gleason bank 2 with no time remaining forced overtime. In OT to Alyssa Hiriwani’s hustle and ability in the isolation led to the 22-20 win.
In the second semi-final the one loss Tokomanawa Queens faced off against the defending champion Mainland Pouākai in a matchup that featured a tight scoreline throughout the first 6 minutes. But eventually the Queens found a higher standard on defence to force the Pouākai into difficult shots before the lead was stretched to 5 as Zoe Richards found the range from two followed by a layup with less than 4 minutes remaining to grab a lead they wouldn’t again relinquish before cruising to a 21-9 win.
On the Men’s side the defending champion Southland Sharks took on their old Rival Wellington Saints as the leading scorer from the qualifying portion of the tournament Rangimarie Dougall-Mita took on number three in that department, Ethan Rusbatch. But it was the size and rebounding of Isacc Miller-Jose that proved to be the x-factor, as Dougall-Mita continued to showcase his skill set that is well suited for the halfcourt game and eventuated in a 21-13 victory.
In semi-final number two the Canterbury Rams looked to take revenge for an earlier loss suffered at the hands of the Nelson Giants. Second time around the Giants were less effective, falling into a big early hole and bowing out 21-5 to see the Rams reach the 3x3 Cup final.
MVP of the 3x3 Cup
Women All Star 4
Men All Star 4