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England squads take on 3×3 basketball ahead of Commonwealth Games

GREAT BRITAIN squads for 3×3 basketball have entered the final stages in qualifying to compete for gold ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games this summer.

The Men and Women’s teams are hoping to represent England after soaring through entry to the Europe Cup in collaboration with Basketball England in efforts to improve the national team’s FIBA ​​3×3.

The move is expected to put 3×3 basketball on the map as the first of its kinds to be competed during the highly-anticipated games in Birmingham.

Steve Bucknall, Basketball England’s Head of Talent and Performance, told The Voice the selection process to find some of the very best in 3×3 basketball players was wrapped up following an intense two-year campaign.

“We had about 75 or so women and about 75 or so men. We felt the prospectus out to them and just kind of told them what we wanted to do.

“We told them what we wanted to do over the next two years leading up to the Commonwealth Games and basically an expression of interest,” he said.

“We looked at the names, whittled it down to about 20 or 30 and then we got some coaches involved.

“We did a recruitment process where we had interviews with a number of different coaches, both male and female.

“We ended up with two great candidates that we selected – Julius Joseph and Steph Collins – very experienced.

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“One of the reasons why we went with them, because of their playing background and their success in previous Commonwealth Games as players.”

England Men’s 3×3 Team Head Coach, Julius Joseph, and Stef Collins on the Women’s team are expecting to be leading the young players to victory this summer while coaching a new kind of basketball.

After first debuting at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, 3×3 basketball demands a new level of endurance and stamina with two teams of three basketball players going head to head to reach 21 points or by scoring the most points in a 10-minute game with one hoop.

Shanice Beckford-Norton, 25, who plays on the women’s team told The Voice that her “quick and explosive” playing style has made the transition to this new kind of basketball easy.

“It’s a ten minute game and 5×5 is 40 minutes, but that 10 minutes last so long because you’re literally going seven or eight meters constantly back and forth, and just how quickly you transition from offense and defense,” she explained .

“But it definitely takes a lot of endurance and a lot of agility, but it’s fun being able to have that experience and having to be able to learn a slightly different skill set and adapt so quickly.”

​​Andre Arissol, 25, who plays on the men’s team said the change from traditional 5×5 basketball has been “extremely different,” but altogether rewarding.

“You go from 5×5 basketball where it’s still interval training and you’re still very fast paced. But there’s more time-outs, there’s more people on the courts. There’s more windows to kind of rest, but with 3×3 basketball there’s only three people.

“So, the margin for error is very small, it’s very chaotic, and it’s very fast. It takes a lot mentally, emotionally, and physically.”

“It’s a really big, big moment for England basketball because they only see it on TV and obviously COVID happened so they’re [the fans] only watching it through maybe social media,” he added.

“But now they get the opportunity to actually watch the players that they idolize or grew up against and all that stuff to see live and represent the country against some of the best in the world.

“And it’s amazing. But, we’re ready. We expect nothing less than getting the medal. Gold is the aim.”

As the Commonwealth Games sets to take over Birmingham this summer, Shanice added:I spoke to a few people recently, just about how much we can inspire young, young kids and young girls being involved in a sport representing the country.

“They’re able to see what we can do if you just like to practice and train and put in the work the possibilities are endless with that.”

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