GUAM WINS FIBA 3X3 CHAMPIONSHIP IN AUSTRALIA
By Jay Leon Guerrero
Basketball never stops. Fresh off a huge championship victory in the Guam Invitational Basketball Tournament, members of the Guam National Basketball team traveled to Gold Coast, Australia, to play in the Oceania 3X3 FIBA championships. Daren Hechanova, Kyle Husslein, Curtis Washington and Jin Han traveled to Australia to face the to teams from the Oceania region.
After suffering a 10-5 loss to New South Wales (NSW), Australia, in the pool play rounds, Guam took out some heavy competition and made the playoffs rounds with just one loss under their belt.
After the elimination rounds, the final four was decided with the Cook Islands, Tonga, Guam and Australia (NSW)making it to the semi-final rounds. After dispatching Tonga 14-9 in the semi-finals, Guam advanced to play NSW in a highly anticipated rematch in the beachfront court.
Guam took the early advantage and held on to an 11-9 lead with two seconds remaining. Washington was fouled and had a chance to seal the victory at the free throw line, but the free was off and the ball rattled out. NSW tips the rebound out to an open player waiting beyond the arc to tie the game.
The shot goes up and swishes in to send the game to overtime. But wait, after review the shot was not counted because it was after the final buzzer. The quartet contingent from Guam breathed a sigh of relief and celebrated after the final decision was made official.
According to head coach EJ Calvo, this is the first ever win for Team Guam in the 3×3 level at this caliber. “It was a really good win for Team Guam, we are proud of their efforts,” said Calvo.
“The 3X3 game is completely different from the 5 on 5 game, its fast paced and quick. It took me a few games to adjust to the style. We lost early in the tournament to Australia (NSW) and we decided to regroup and have a team meeting. After the meeting, we never lost a game,” said Washington.
“This was my first time also playing a 3X3 tournament, it is very fast paced and there is a 12 second shot clock,” said Hechanova.
“When we first played against Australia, we were all still trying to get used to the 3X3 rules, the dead spots on the court and also the wind which made it difficult to shoot. Once it got deeper into the tournament, we made the adjustments and we were championship ready,” said Husslein.
For the three young members (Washington, Husslein, and Hechanova), the championship will look great on their resume. For veteran player Jin Han, the win is much sweeter.
“Jin was such a huge help with his veteran approach; his guidance and hard play helped us win this championship. His hustle and heart showed a lot out there and his defense was tough. He made big plays by getting steals and hustling for loose balls,” said Hechanova.
After the tournament, three members of the team traveled to Sydney to train and work out with a professional club. “We are currently working out with the Sydney Kings, the assistant coach Dean Vickerman is leading the practice,” said Husslein.
Coach Calvo said the opportunity was there for his players to expose themselves to a higher level of basketball. “After the tournament the guys will work out with a professional team. It’s a great way to get them some goods exposure,” said Calvo.
According to Calvo, the Federation used some networking to make the most out of their trip. “Jin returned home after the Gold Coast tournament, the three will stay back and train for a couple more days,” said Calvo.
Husslein will head back to college in the west coast directly from Sydney, Washington and Hechanova will fly back to Guam. Han, who was a last minute entry for the tournament, had to head back home to start the school year as an educator at Simon Sanchez High School.