NY Harlem Advances to Quarterfinals at FIBA 3x3 World Tour Finals
Featuring the 12 top ranked 3x3 teams from this season's FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2020, the 3x3 World Tour Finals got underway Friday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and the lone representative from the U.S., NY Harlem, split its two games to survive opening pool play and advance into Saturday’s quarterfinals round.
NY Harlem dropped its opening game 21-16 to Utena (Lithuania) but bounced back two hours later with a dramatic 21-19 overtime win against Šakiai (Lithuania) to keep alive its title hopes.
NY Harlem earned Group D’s No. 2 seed and will meet 3x3 power and Group B No. 1 seed Novi Sade (Serbia) in Saturday’s (10:45 am EST) quarterfinal game. Novi Sad, who finished 2-0 in group play Friday, is the two-time defending World Tour champion and has won four crowns overall (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019). The games are being streamed live on https://worldtour.fiba3x3.com/2020/jeddah.
NY Harlem's roster at the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Finals features Marcel Esonwune (New York, NY), Dominique Jones (Harlem, NY) and Joey King (Eagan, MN) and David Seagers (Bronxville, NY).
The pinnacle of the 3x3 professional circuit, the FIBA 3x3 World Tour in 2020 featured four competitions: (August 29-30), (Sept. 1-2), (Sept. 4-5) and Doha Masters (Nov. 20-21).
With its back against the wall and in need of a win to keep alive its hopes of advancing into Saturday’s quarterfinals, NY Harlem came up with the big plays needed to earn the win.
Šakiai took control early and pushed ahead 12-7 following back-to-back 2-pointers, but Harlem clawed back within one, 12-11, after Jones sank consecutive 2s. With just over a minute remaining in the game, King scored to lift NY Harlem in front 17-16. Aurelijus Pukelis scored twice to propel Šakiai to an 18-17 lead and Harlem's Jones in the game’s closing seconds secured an offensive rebound off his own miss to score and tie the score at 18-all. Šakiai’s final possession in regulation came up empty but only after Esonwune tied up the ball preventing a shot attempt.
Headed into overtime where the first team to score two-points is declared the winner, Pukelis scored first to give Šakiai a 19-18 lead. King scored on a drive to even the score, and Jones made a steal on the following possession and quickly launched a 2-pointer that found nothing but net to earn NY Harlem the dramatic 21-19 victory.
“I thought I didn’t play very well today. I was in the position to end the game and of course big time players make big time shots so that’s what I had to do,” said Jones, who in 2019 was named the FIBA 3x3 World Tour regular season MVP. “We definitely didn’t show well today, but tomorrow is a new day, a new start, and that what we need.”
Jones finished the contest with eight points and six rebounds, King contributed seven points and Esonwune added five points.
Opening the day facing Utena (video replay of the game is available here), NY Harlem led 5-4 following a basket by King. Utena, making two 2-point shots, outscored Harlem 7-2 to grab control 11-7 with 6:13 remaining. Harlem tied the score 12-12 on a King 2-pointer, however, Utena responded with a 4-1 run to take a 16-13 lead. Baskets by Seager and King closed the deficit to 16-15, but Utena closed strong. Leading 19-16, Utena’s Vytautas Šulskis went to the foul line for two free throws with 2:06 remaining in the game. Making the first free throw to put Utena on the cusp of claiming the win, Šulskis missed his second charity try and as the ball hung on the rim, Utena’s Žygimantas Skučas stuffed it in to claim the 21-16 win for Utena with 2:05 left on the clock.
NY Harlem made just 3-of-10 2-point attempts, and was badly outrebounded as Utena posted a 19-7 advantage on the boards, including a decisive 10-2 margin on the offensive glass. King led Harlem’s scoring with eight points, Seager and Jones added three point each, Esonwune contributed two points.
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. Olympic fans will see the the inclusion of 3x3 in the Tokyo Olympic Games next July.