SEA Games: 3x3 cagers eye improvements after tough debut in Hanoi

Singapore's Larry Liew jumps for the ball during the 3x3 match against Cambodia on May 14, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

HANOI - Playing in a major 3x3 basketball competition for the first time, the men's and women's national teams knew it would be a challenging campaign at the SEA Games in Hanoi.

While both teams finished sixth out of seventh in their respective categories, they still had plenty of positives to take from their outing.

After the competition ended on Saturday (May 14), women's captain Lim Jia Min said that while the players were not as used to the game, they still had an interesting and fun experience.

She said: "Ten minutes pass by very quickly so you have to be in the game at the right time. But in that sense, it's easier because it's anybody's game and everyone has a chance (to win).

"We could be better but we tried our best and did what we could. With more time and exposure playing against other teams, we can get more used to the intensity and figure out a way to prepare better."

Three-a-side basketball is played on half a court, with the game ending after a 10-minute period or after a team reaches 21 points. Three-pointers are worth two points while lay-ups are worth one.

Both teams played a single round robin each, with the top four teams progressing to the semi-finals at the Thanh Tri Gymnasium. The event took place from May 13 to 14.

The men's team won two matches while the women's team won one. Thailand clinched the men's title by defeating hosts Vietnam 19-17, while the Philippines had to settle for third.

Thailand also won the women's title after beating Vietnam 21-19 in the final. Indonesia were third.

Only half a court was used but the stands around the entire basketball court were filled with spectators. But the drumming and loudest cheers were reserved for the Vietnamese teams.

The non-stop cheering was matched by the sound of shoes squeaking and balls bouncing as players dodged, dunked and defended.

Confined to a smaller field of play, the players' movements were quicker and sharper compared to the five-a-side game.

Singapore's Jacqueline Chu in action during the match against Cambodia on May 14, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

While men's co-captain Leon Kwek was slightly disappointed they did not win a medal, he was still proud of the team and added that they were still trying to find their identity.

The 25-year-old explained: "The Vietnamese rely on the two-pointers while the Philippines like to play one point at a time. We have to (use these games to) figure out what's something we're good at and stick to that and see how it evolves.

"It's been fun. When we fall short, of course we won't be pleased because we always hope for a medal. But we can hold our heads up high and I'm proud to say we've left everything on court with no regrets. Now we'll just go back and get better at it."

Singapore's Leon Kwek attempts a shot during the match against the Philippines on May 14, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Co-captain Delvin Goh, 27, echoed Kwek's sentiments and added that the team have to strengthen themselves for the faster-paced game and work on their three-point shooting.

He added: "(The scheduling) is very different and tough for us because we haven't been on this kind of schedule before. In the five-on-five, we usually play one game a day but we played three in one day for this."

Both teams' participation is also a building block for the future, said Kwek, as Basketball Association of Singapore president Koh Koon Teck had earlier expressed his goal of having Singapore qualify for the 2032 Olympics. The discipline made its Olympic debut in Tokyo last year.

The players will also get another chance to compete when Singapore host the Fiba 3x3 Asia Cup in July.

Spectators at the 3x3 basketball competition at the Thanh Tri gymnasium in Hanoi on May 14, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

National players Pauline Ang, Chin Wan Qing and Shermaine See will represent Singapore in the women's event while Kwek, Goh, Larry Liew and Lim Jun Yuan - the SEA Games team - will compete in the men's event.

Kwek said: "In the three-on-three, even if you're a smaller size, you can still be competitive. So for the guys in Singapore thinking we're always lacking in terms of height, this is a good platform to let them know that if they work hard and train, they can play in such big events."

Lim, 30, added: "Being able to watch this live, more people will want to get into it and this was a good start to let people know about this opportunity and that it's pretty cool and there's a chance to be good at it."

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