Cole Can’t Hide Excitement Over 3×3 Potential

She has already had the chance to represent Australia at a 3×3 FIBA World Cup and Asia Cup and Bec Cole couldn’t be enjoying the condensed basketball format any more as she prepares for Sunday’s NBL Pro Hustle 3 at Circular Quay in Sydney.

Cole, a star in the WNBL with the Melbourne Boomers, has adjusted instantly to the 3×3 game and that started last year when she was selected to play at the 3×3 World Cup.

Now after an outstanding season in the WNBL where she was a significant factor in the Boomers reaching the Grand Final before just falling short to the Townsville Fire in three games in the championship decider, Cole has got right back into the 3×3 game.

After playing in the first NBL 3×3 Pro Hustle at Melbourne’s Docklands Studios, Cole was selected to represent Australia at the recent FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup and she starred there as part of the team that won bronze being named to the All-Tournament Team.

She then had to miss the second Pro Hustle event in Melbourne last Sunday because of SEABL commitments with the Melbourne Tigers, but she is excited to be back this Sunday for the first event at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay.

“I just think it is so exciting and awesome that the NBL and Basketball Australia have been able to come together to provide an opportunity for everyone out there,” Cole said.

“Obviously at the senior level it’s something that is very exciting and because it will be at the next Olympics that’s awesome. Now people have the opportunity to choose 5×5 or 3×3 and there’s two different ways you can go. It’s a very entertaining game and the atmosphere is amazing.

“Even hearing from Pro Hustle 1 to 2, how many more people getting on board whether that be through teams or fans, everyone is excited about it. It’s only going to get bigger and bigger, and the opportunity to win prizemoney especially for women is massive. It’s just a great opportunity to be part of.”

Playing a regular five-on-five game for 40 minutes at the same time as playing a 3×3 tournament in the same weekend certainly has its challenges too, but Cole wouldn’t have it any other way and that’s what she is facing this weekend.

On Saturday night, she will be playing in the SEABL for the Melbourne Tigers against the Bendigo Braves at Oakleigh Recreation Centre before then jumping on the plane to Sydney on Sunday morning for the Pro Hustle.

It takes some adjusting no doubt, but Cole couldn’t be enjoying being part of it all any more.

“I play Saturday night in Melbourne and then I’m flying out Sunday morning to fly out for the Pro Hustle. It has been tiring but we love it and we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it,” she said.

“You really do finish a game exhausted, but I think you recover a little bit quicker because your body hasn’t gone through 40 minutes. But at the end of a Pro Hustle tournament you are knackered. All you want is food and a bed and you are good.

“You definitely have to adjust your physicality. Obviously with 5×5 you can’t have a hand in the body and can’t be pushing as much as you can in 3×3.

“It’s almost like your whole mindset has to change with your physicality. The ball is also a little bit different so you have to adjust to that. At the moment I’m training for both and it’s OK, you’re a basketballer and you know what to do.”

Given the fact that playing 3×3 for Cole has already led to her representing Australia at a World Cup and Asia Cup, she sees the potential in the game and is obviously developing her own game well to suit the format.

She still feels as though she’s learning all he time and now can’t wait to get out there again on Sunday.

“It’s obviously always an honour any time you pull on the green and gold and get to represent your country. They are invaluable those tournaments because you get to see how the Asians play, how the Europeans play and each style is so different,” Cole said.

“You definitely learn and adapt to different people and how they play, and then you have to build on that and keep changing the way you play so it’s hard for them to defend you.

“From the Asia Cup, I learned so much and I’m just so excited about this weekend and hopefully helping my teammates out as much as possible.”

The fact that she’s already been to a World Cup and Asia Cup, and with 3×3 being added to the Tokyo Olympic Games, it only adds to the attraction of playing the condensed and intense format of the game for Cole as well.

“It’s just so exciting to have that potential,” she said.

“It’s obviously a dream when you are younger to go and represent your country at an Olympics, and the fact that the opportunity is there now, the more Pro Hustle events there can be it’s just such a great opportunity for us basketballers to keep building our 3×3 game so we can be competitive amongst those other countries.

“These tournaments are great too because we need the points. Australia needs to qualify first before a team can go, that’s why these events are great and it’s super exciting.”

Immediately when Cole first played a 3×3 game last year and ended up representing Australia at the World Cup, she knew it was something that she wanted to experience more and more of.

She wasn’t sure where it would lead and how it would end up working alongside a regular five-on-five game, and the tools required and way you play is certainly different, but she is loving it.

“I really enjoy the 3×3 style and it is very different,” she said.

“I was lucky enough last year to go to the 3×3 World Cup so I have had a bit of prior experience, but apart from that competition I think I trained with my coach and a couple of the girls maybe a week or two leading up to the first Pro Hustle event.

“It’s just one of those things where you learn a lot about the game and how it’s played every time you get on the court. You learn something different about how you adapt and what you can do better. I just really enjoy the game, it really suits my style where it’s very powerful, athletic, strong and it’s just intense all over.”

Really the only similarity in a lot of ways of the traditional game and 3×3 basketball for Cole is in the name and the fact that you are putting a ball through a hoop.

But she is finding that every time she steps onto a 3×3 court she is learning and developing more and more, and that the basketball fraternity is still learning about the concept and the style of play and player it’s best suited to.

“It’s completely different and 5×5 and 3×3 have the same name basketball and you put a ball through a hoop, but everything else is so different. People come up to me and say it must be easy playing on a small court, but I tell them to play a game and get back to me,” Cole said.

“It’s so much more physical than a regular game and you don’t have time to worry about missing a shot or fouling someone because the transition from O to D or D to O is so quick.

“Even the rebounding and the quick outlets, you notice little things from people who have played 3×3 a lot to those who are just starting. That’s why it’s an advantage if your team has played all the three Hustles. It also doesn’t suit everyone’s style of game.

“It’s great to be a good three-point shooter because those two-pointers make a difference and you need to attack the basket to get layups. It’s almost like you want to let someone shoot a pull up mid-range jump shot with a hand in their face. It’s just the intensity level that’s so different.”

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