Ariel Slow & Steady Wins 2018 USA Basketball Men’s 3x3 National Championship
With a perfect 8-0 record and a 21-14 win over 3BALL Minnesota (5-3) in the title game, Ariel Slow & Steady won the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s 3x3 National Championship on Sunday, April 22 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The team includes Damon Huffman (Brown/Seattle, Wash.), Kareem Maddox (Princeton/Brooklyn, N.Y.), Dan Mavraides (Princeton/Los Angeles, Calif.) and Craig Moore (Northwestern/New York, N.Y.), and as the men’s winner, Ariel Slow & earned a spot in the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Mexico City Masters event that will be held Sept. 8-9, 2018.
While the 6-foot-8 Maddox was named tournament MVP, he was the only member of Ariel Slow & Steady who did not return from the 2017 champion team that included Huffman, Mavraides and Moore. Maddox scored six points in the final game, including his team’s first four points.
“It means that I have great teammates, basically,” Maddox said of his MVP award. “Truly these guys spread the court so much that I have a lot of room to operate and play the way that I play, which is primarily a driver. I got so much room to work with. I’m proud of myself, but we work really, really hard, and this is a culmination of that.”
The championship game was a close contest until midway through, and the score was tied at 11-11 with 4:00 to play. Ariel Slow & Steady went on to sink four more shots from behind the arc and allowed 3BALL Minnesota just three more points before sealing the win by reaching 21 points with 2:20 remaining on the clock. Overall, Ariel Slow & Steady sank seven 2-pointers in the championship game.
“The real differentiator in this sport comes in the second half of the game,” Mavraides said. “When everyone is fresh, I have seen throughout this tournament, that it has been pretty equal. Where we’ve differentiated ourselves is when people start getting tired. We play unselfish basketball. We pass up layups for open 2s, trade ones for twos, so we are happy to come back and be the first team to be back-to-back national champions.
“To qualify for the Mexico Masters is really exciting,” Mavraides continued. “We are also qualified for Saskatoon Masters, so a lot of hoops to play and a lot of 3x3 growth to come.”
Ariel Slow & Steady reached the gold medal game after a 21-15 win in the semifinals over WAC (5-3); while 3BALL Minnesota advanced after downing Ariel Turtles (5-2) 21-17 in its semifinal matchup.
Games were played under FIBA 3x3 rules, which feature a 10-minute clock and 12-second shot clock. Other rules of note include: free throws and buckets inside the arc are worth one point and shots from beyond the arc are worth two points; the first team to 21 points or whichever team is ahead at the end of regulation play is the winner; and if the game ends in a tie, the first team to score two points in overtime wins.