Wright Eyes More 3×3 Success

Written for by Chris Pike


Fresh off the high of being part of Australia’s victorious 3×3 FIBA Asia Cup winning team, Tom Wright wants some more success as part of the NBL Pro Hustle at Melbourne’s Docklands Studios as much to match what his wife accomplished three weeks ago as anything.

Wright missed the opening NBL 3×3 Pro Hustle at Docklands Studios but was named in the Australian team to play at the Asia Cup in China that ended up winning gold where he was alongside Tom Garlepp, Andrew Steel and Owen Odigie.

He then played at the second edition in Melbourne on Sunday and is set to take part this Sunday in Sydney.

The 29-year-old 6’2 guard who attended Coker College and is currently playing his SEABL basketball for the Nunawading Spectres has thrown himself into the 3×3 game and is currently Australia’s second ranked player behind teammate, Steel.

Getting the chance to head to Shenzhen, China for the Asia Cup and then to be part of the victorious team where Australia beat Mongolia in the decider 17-16 thanks to a buzzer-beat from Garlepp was a remarkable experience for the Melbourne native.

It’s an opportunity that the thriving 3×3 game has opened up for him and he ensured he fully embraced everything about the experience.

“It was an incredible honour to be chosen first and foremost. I’ve been playing 3×3 for probably six months previous and it’s a pretty new format, but I’ve really loved it and to be included in that team was a huge honour,” Wright said.

“The whole experience and just being able to go over and play in a tournament with more than 20 countries and pull on the green and gold is something that you always dream of.

“To be able to do that and represent your country was amazing. We had such a good week and had a really good team, we got along great and obviously I knew Tommy and Andrew already. To be able to go over there and play for your country was amazing.”

Having missed the first NBL Pro Hustle due to SEABL commitments, Wright was looking forward to getting out there on Sunday with the tournament set to again include the likes of former NBL veterans Peter Crawford, Anthony Petrie and Luke Schenscher.

But for Wright, backing up his wife Izzy Chilcott being part of the winning women’s team two weeks ago is even more of a motivating force.

“I’m really excited to go against some of those guys now who are high-level players who have started playing like Peter Crawford, Petrie and Schenscher,” he said.

“It’s great to see them involved but we’ve played in a lot of the other tournaments and had great success with our squad so it will be great to see how we match up with guys like that.

“I know my wife, Izzy Chilcott, won the women’s side last time too so there’s a bit of bragging rights going around so I’ll have to try and get one back too.”

While Wright has now been playing the 3×3 game for more than six months, he’s enjoying seeing more and more players give it a go including those with enormous experience at the professional level like a Garlepp, Petrie, Schenscher, Crawford, Jeremy Kendle and Oscar Forman.

It certainly takes some adjusting to get used to the different format but he especially enjoyed being an Asian Cup winning teammate of Garlepp’s on the trip to China.

“It’s really interesting to see the type of guys who are giving it a crack because it’s so different to 5×5. It’s a new, exciting format that outsiders who haven’t played it before might not understand just how different it is with all the rule changes,” Wright said.

“It’s a lot more physical and fast paced, and it is a lot different when you’re on the court. You notice that straight away so the NBL vets and ex-players who have played like Tommy have really noticed that when they’ve tried it out.

“I guess for him he has played at the highest level for so long and being able to come and have such a good tournament, and fit in so well with the structure of the game was great. His inside, outside game suits 3×3 really well so it was great to have him on the team.”

While it is still basketball, really that is the only thing similar to the traditional game that the 3×3 format has in common.

Wright, himself, certainly noticed that you don’t actually notice just how different it is until you actually get out thee and play and he’s finding himself learning new tricks of the trade all the time.

“There are a lot of adjustments you have to make going from regular 5×5 and I think I’m still learning it as well. I wouldn’t say I’m 100 per cent up with it,” he said.

“You look at some of the teams we played and there are guys who play for Mongolia, Japan and some of the other countries who are playing on the World Tour and going to all these massive events around the world.

“They have a heap of experience and when you come up against them you really notice it. They exploit mismatches, work the angles on screens really well and they get the cheap points that are so hard to get in this format of the game.

“A couple of years down the track when Australia is playing it more, I think we’ll be a pretty dominant force but at the moment there’s a lot of work to do at participation level and learning and understanding the game better.”

While right now, the 3×3 is in its infancy especially in Australia, Wright sees no reason why it can’t continue to grow and that players like himself might even end up spending more of their time focusing on that than the traditional five on five game.

“It depends how big the sport gets. It’s growing at the moment and the work that a lot of the competitions are doing back here is amazing with the resources being thrown behind it,” he said.

“If it ever became a full-time or standalone league, I’d put my hand up for it but at the moment we just have a couple of big tournaments going on. But if it was a regular fixture I’d want to become more and more involved.”

Not only is Wright enjoying some strong success in the 3×3 game, he has been part of a strong start to the season in the SEABL with Nunawading that he hopes can continue.

“We’ve got pretty much the same team except for one or two changes from last year so we’ve brought back a strong group,” Wright said.

“We had a really good off-season in terms of practice and we’ve started well, but it’s a long season and we know there’s really good teams out there who will be right up there by the end of the season. We have a lot of work to do but it’s a good start.”

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