Preparation Is The Winning Strategy For Griffin And Teammates At FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final
With only one day remaining before the start of the 2015 FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final from Oct. 15-16 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Derek Griffin (Denver, Colo.) is hoping that his team’s preparations will pay off.
“Going into the 3x3 worlds, we have been keeping each other accountable, and just running and running and staying in shape as best we can,” said Griffin, a 6-foot-3 guard who will team up with 6’2 Corey Campbell (San Diego, Calif.), 6’9 Marcus King-Stockton (Denver, Colo.) and 6’3 Paris Kyles (Brooklyn Park, Minn.). “We feel like we are preparing right, but we will see.”
Practicing, however, is not as simple as needing to find gym space. While Griffin and Campbell currently reside in Denver, King-Stockton (a Denver native) and Kyles live in Minnesota.
“Marcus was actually in town this weekend,” Griffin explained. “He came to get some practices in. Paris couldn’t get off work. So, we’ve been on the phone a lot. There has been a lot of video sharing. Because, what we also are doing now is, we know who we are playing and we’re breaking down video and getting a scouting report ready for when we get there.
“We have to have not only the physical and athletic advantage, we have to have the mental advantage, too. Every great program in the world prepares.”
Griffin admitted that current focus is fueled in part by a bad experience in 2014, when they were eliminated after a loss in the quarterfinal round.
“I can compare this year to last year’s FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final in Sendai, Japan,” Griffin explained. “When we went there, we got beat the worst we have ever been beat, 21-3 to the Canadian Saskatoon team, which was a very good team that we struggled to pay against. We did not like that.”
The road to this year’s 2015 FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final began on July 25 at the 2015 USA Basketball 3x3 National Tournament, where Griffin was named MVP as he, Campbell, King-Stockton and another teammate, Gary Sugar (Denver, Colo.), won the event.
By virtue of winning the USA Basketball national tournament, Griffin, Campbell, King-Stockton earned a berth into the 2015 FIBA 3x3 World Tour Mexico DF Masters that was held Sept. 9-10 in Mexico City.
Denver won the Mexico Masters in overtime after recording a thrilling 21-19 victory against NY Harlem in the finals.
Adding Kyles to the roster prior to Mexico, Griffin said his newest teammate made an immediate impact. Kyles was named MVP of the FIBA World Tour Mexico DF Masters after tying the championship game from deep with just a few seconds left to force overtime, and then he made another two-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer in overtime for the win.
“Where we find ourselves struggling is when we start going one-on-one more,” Griffin explained. “Paris Kyles came into Mexico City and said, ‘Guys, there are three plays that we need to run.’ They were plays that he ran with his other team that got them easy baskets. We put them in, and it worked.”
Griffin and his teammates are borrowing another winning strategy, this time some defensive principles from a foreign squad.
“From that point on, we were like, we have got to follow this structure and add the type of defensive pressure that the Serbians do really well -- with our athleticism.
“This is the most prepared we’ve ever been,” said Griffin, who is one of 12 people in the world to have played in every FIBA 3x3 World Tour. “And we’ve been to three world championships of the four. It has grown.”
Griffin and Team Denver have been drawn into Pool B, where on Oct. 15 they will play Santos (Brazil) and Ljubljana (Slovenia). The top two finishing teams from each of the four groups advance to the quarterfinals on Oct. 16, and the semifinals and finals also will take place on Oct. 16.