How 3×3 Basketball Changed Tom Wright’s World

Written by Roy Ward

Tom Wright was content with his place in the basketball world.

The 30-year-old guard has achieved many things in basketball from winning titles with Nunawading Spectres to spending time in the NBL as a development player with Sydney Kings.

In recent years Wright has merged together his playing career with the Spectres and a promising professional career in advertising and sales in the media industry.

Then, 18 months ago, he was introduced to 3×3 basketball.

Now he is in Amsterdam playing for Australia at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup which starts this week and he has also won two 3×3 Asia Cup’s with Australia including the recent event in China, in which the team went 5-0 and Wright was named tournament MVP.

“Dave Biwer, my Spectres coach, kind of introduced me to it,” Wright said.

“There was a lot of smaller tournaments happening at the time and it was just an off-season bit of fun, we would just get some guys from Nunawading and play together.

“Then I started to love it and everything changed from there.”

Biwer now heads Australia’s 3×3 program and Wright has quickly become one of the nation’s best players – he thinks it’s because he has a variety of skills.

“I knew it was more my style of play – I’ve always been decent at a lot of things but never outstanding at one thing,” Wright said.

“I’m a jack of all trades and that’s what you need to be in 3×3 – you have to play defence, score a bit, shoot and defend multiple positions.”

Where the penny dropped for Wright and 3×3 was when he was first called into the Australian side, and they boosted his training to see how well he can go in the short form of basketball.

“The first point was last year when I was selected in my first Aussie team for the Asia Cup,” Wright said.

“That moment was surreal. I’ve played SEABL or NBL1 for five or six years and was pretty content with playing at that level and working full time.

“But I’d maybe put the NBL in the back of my mind, said it was probably past me. Then I get the chance to represent my country. My mind completely shifted at that stage.

“To play for your country is the ultimate honour.

“It’s also fun to get excited about a new form of the game. You play five on five basketball for all your life, 20 plus years, and then something new comes along and it’s addictive.”

Australia was late to the party on 3×3 basketball but they have made big strides in recent years with recent NBL players also adding talent and professionalism to the program.

The World Cup side includes Greg Hire who just retired from the NBL after another championship win with Perth Wildcats, alongside Nunawading’s Andrew Steel, Illawarra Hawks forward Tim Coenraad and Wright.

“It’s testament to the talent we have and the guys, especially the NBL guys, who are stepping in and seeing this is a real pathway,” Wright said.

“These guys have had long NBL careers and for them to step into this team shows it’s not a flash in the pan but something pretty awesome.

“At the same time the strength of the 3×3 game is based in Europe. There are teams like Serbia who have been dominant and won the last three World Cups so it’s nice to have some success but we will have to step up again.”

Wright has fallen in love with the craziness of 3×3 but he has had the good fortune of having a supportive workplace and the ability to take some time off recently to travel to 3×3 events.

Nunawading has also been supportive with Biwer, Steel and Wright all missing chunks of the first half of the season.

Luckily the Spectres have enough veteran leaders and a strong coaching staff so they have remained among the contenders and once the World Cup is over then Wright and co will be primed to jump into the NBL1 season.

“We have some really, really good chemistry and are deep – we haven’t played a game with our full team yet and we are 9-3,” Wright said.

“Once we are all back from Amsterdam we will have a real crack at getting some chemistry together, putting some good sessions in with our full team.

“I think we will be pretty frightening come the second half of the season and moving into play-offs.”

The different styles of basketball and travels to exotic locations has been a big change for Wright but he is embracing every experience as he never saw any of it coming.

“The five guys we have had on the last few trips are real close and get along but the travel does throw you out of your routine,” Wright said.

“I’m just lucky that I’m in a situation where I can get a bit of time off from work, they have been very supportive, and Nunawading is super supportive in letting a number of us step away.

“Having trips to Puerto Rico, China and now Amsterdam in the past two months has thrown things out a bit, it’s a huge amount of travel but that’s one of the exciting things.

“When you get to this stage of your career to go to these places and play against other countries is super exciting.”

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