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Zahir Carrington

Ariel Slow & Steady Defends Title at 2019 Red Bull USA Basketball Men’s 3x3 Nationals

  • Date:
    May 4, 2019

Ariel Slow & Steady (7-1) captured its fourth Red Bull USA Basketball Men’s 3x3 Nationals championship in six years after defeating Ariel NYAC (5-2) 21-12 in the gold medal game on Saturday night at the as Vegas Downtown Events Center.

With the win, Ariel Slow & Steady qualified for a berth in the 2019 FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters stop held July 20-21 in Saskatoon, Canada.

“It was kind of a weird game because we play together all the time, so we knew each other’s players, we’re very familiar with each other’s games, and it’s an awesome accomplishment for us to get both of our team in the finals,” said Robbie Hummel (Purdue/Valparaiso, Ind.), who was named MVP of the tournament after scoring 16 points in the gold medal game. “It was a hard-fought game and I think we were fortunate to make some shots and kind of stun them early, get out in front in that game, and it was just a little too much for them to come back from. They were definitely, I think, a little bit thrown off by the way we made shots early.”

In addition to Hummel, also aiding Ariel Slow & Steady to a second-straight championship were Damon Huffman (Brown/Seattle, Wash.); Kareem Maddox (Princeton/Los Angeles, Calif.); and Dan Mavraides (Princeton/Los Angeles, Calif.).

Behind six points from Hummel, including two of his five 2s in the game, Ariel Slow & Steady ripped off seven-straight points before Ariel NYAC went on a 5-1 spurt to close to a three-point game, 8-5. However, Slow & Steady responded with a 7-1 run to go up 15-7 and its lead never fell below six points the remainder of the game. Holding a 19-12 advantage, Hummel pulled his team within one point and Huffman finished out the game with 1:11 still remaining on the clock. 

“That’s the name of the game,” added Hummel on his 2-point buckets. “I think when you play 3x3 you want to make other teams score 21 1s, it’s incredibly hard to do in a 10-minute game. If you can make 2s you can pretty much beat anyone. So, it’s always our game plan to limit 2s and try and make our own and that’s sometimes easier said than done.  Luckily the wind kind of died down, we were shooting curve balls earlier in the night, it got a little windy around the quarterfinals but I thought we executed our game plan really well and we really defended, we really defended all day and that was kind of the difference for us today.”

“When we both [Ariel] got here, we congratulated each other, but when that ball tipped up, they were just like everybody else,” said Huffman, who has now played in four 3x3 nationals. “War paint is going on. We want to try to win just like we want to win every other game. It is different because we know each other’s tendencies and styles because we play together all the time, so there were things we would try to exploit at times, but other than that, this just showed if you put in the time and effort, you can be successful in this sport. You don’t need to be the best athlete or the best basketball player, but you have to be committed. You have to show up. That’s what we did last year by playing in almost 20 professional events, and we’ll play in another 25 this year. We’re going to continue to pursue our dream of representing the USA and try to play in an Olympics.”

“From start to finish, this event was so top notch,” concluded Huffman. “I didn’t expect anything less from USA Basketball, but getting here, seeing the courts, then playing on the floor under these lights was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Obviously, the competition this year was raised up another level. This weekend, for us, we played together as a team, and I think we showed that a team needs four guys that can contribute all at different times.”

After finishing preliminary play with a 3-1 record, Ariel Slow & Steady downed WAC (1-3) 20-12 in the quarterfinal play-in game, defeated Pursuit (4-1) 21-13 in the quarterfinals and 3x3U MAC (4-3) 21-15 in the semifinals to advance to the gold medal game.  

Ariel NYAC features Nate Brown (Saint Peters/Bronx, N.Y.); Pawel Buzcak (Princeton/Brooklyn, N.Y.); Zahir Carrington (Lehigh/Philadelphia, Pa.); and Craig Moore (Northwestern/Doylestown, Pa.).

Arial NYAC, which had a 3-1 slate after preliminary games, downed Attack (3-3) 19-15 in the quarterfinal and took previously unbeaten 3BALL California (5-1) to overtime in the semis before finishing with the 17-16 victory.

The two-day event, which was held outside in Las Vegas for the first time since it was launched in 2012, also served as the 2019 USA Basketball Men’s 3x3 National Team trials, as all eligible athletes will be in consideration for selection to the 2019 USA Men’s 3x3 World Cup and 2019 USA Men’s 2019 U.S. Pan American Games 3x3 Basketball teams. Those teams will be announced at a later date.

“From start to finish, this event was so top notch,” concluded Huffman. “I didn’t expect anything less from USA Basketball, but getting here, seeing the courts, then playing on the floor under these lights was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Obviously, the competition this year was raised up another level. This weekend, for us, we played together as a team, and I think we showed that a team needs four guys that can contribute all at different times.”

Olympic fans will see the launch of a new basketball discipline with the inclusion of 3x3 in 2020. The exciting and fast-paced game officially was unveiled in international competition at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and has since become a fan favorite at FIBA 3x3 World Cup events. Played on a half court with a 10-minute clock, and a 12-second shot clock, the first team to 21 points, or the team in the lead at the end of regulation, is the winner. The non-stop action of 3x3 will ensure it is one of the hottest tickets in Tokyo, and fans in Las Vegas will get an early taste of that excitement during the USA Basketball 3x3 Nationals.

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