NYC Blue Earns 3X East Regional Title
QUEENS, NEW YORK – From the start of bracket play at the 2022 Red Bull USA Basketball 3X East Regional, it was clear that NYC Blue and 2021 3X Nationals champion 3Ball Omaha are high-caliber squads. Both teams had noticeable chemistry and discipline. Consequently, it wasn’t surprising when the two teams met in the tournament’s final.
Eventual East Regional champs NYC Blue featured Robert Baker II, a Harvard basketball alum and current G-Leaguer, former BYU sensation James “Jimmer” Fredette, Jared Wilson and Cassius Stanley.
Fredette opened the regional championship with a spin-move and layup. Baker II added a thunderous one-handed dunk, and NYC Blue had a 6-4 lead with about seven minutes remaining.
“We like to attack and get the ball to certain spots,” Baker II said. “3Ball Omaha was more experienced in 3x3, but we used our youth and athleticism to our advantage. If we continue to shoot well, the sky’s the limit for us.”
Every time NYC Blue tried to pull away, 3Ball Omaha would answer. Omaha’s Trey Bardsley sneakily got to the hoop for momentum-killing layups, while Dylan Travis unleashed two-pointers from downtown.
However, the decisive player was Baker II, who controlled the boards and utilized an array of post moves, which usually ended with dunks. His nearly 7-foot frame proved critical on both sides of the ball as NYC Blue cleared the path to win.
The game became physical on the perimeter, but the teams still traded baskets for the rest of the game. NYC Blue’s Stanley took his defender one-on-one to the paint for a layup with 1:20 left. Fredette followed with a clutch block on Bardsley.
Stanley then went to the foul line with the score 20-18 in favor of NYC Blue. A made free throw clinched the tournament for his squad.
To get to the final, NYC Blue defeated NYC Red 21-15. The semifinal matchup began with a nearly impossible shot from 30 feet out by Gerald “Dusty” Hannahs III as the shot clock wound down. But timely buckets from Fredette and Baker II knocked off NYC Red.
3Ball Omaha faced BallIsLife in their semifinal. Malik Hluchoweckyj pushed his team forward with a barrage of baskets, while Adrian Miller kept the contest close by way of impressive moves in the post.
However, Omaha’s ball movement was too much for BallIsLife to handle and behind Travis’ multiple long-distance two-pointers and a tricky mid-range bank shot, 3Ball Omaha took the victory 21-13.
By virtue of winning the 3X East Regional, NYC Blue earned a spot in next spring’s USA Basketball 3X Nationals. They’ll be joined by semifinalists 3Ball Omaha, BallIsLife and NYC Red.
Peter Kropf is a sportswriter based in Queens, New York. He is a freelance contributor to USAB.com courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.