Four former local collegiate standouts will be making their way to Mexico City this September for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3-on-3 North American World Tour event, after placing second in the Hoop It Up basketball tournament.
The event was held from June 27-28 on the University of Manitoba campus, and was the only Canadian stop on the Hoop It Up North American tour, which also included Houston, Sacramento, and Louisville.
The four athletes – Wyatt Anders, Graham Bodnar, Darcy Coss, and Chris Byrnes – were one of eight teams competing in a round robin-style tournament. They ended up beating Team Ignite, Canada’s top-rated 3-on-3 team, in the round robin before falling to them in the final.
Because Team Ignite had already qualified for the tour from a previous tournament, Team WMBA, as they were referred to, also made it in.
Almost all of Team WMBA’s members have a connection with the Bison basketball program.
Anders was a captain for the squad in 2014-15, while Coss and Byrnes were both standouts in the early 2000s. Bodnar also made a name for himself in the local scene, playing four years with Providence University College.
According to Anders, the players originally joined the 3-on-3 circuit as a way to stay fit.
“We are four players that wanted to compete in the off-season and found out about 3-on-3,” Anders said. “We have been practising hard together and really meshed well this year.”
This isn’t the first go-round for most of the group. In 2014, Anders, Coss, and Bodnar, along with Xavier Smith, won the Hoop It Up event and travelled to Chicago for the FIBA World Tour Masters Qualifier event.
While the group didn’t fare as well as they would have liked in Chicago, it was a positive learning experience, as they were able to see what the best 3-on-3 players in North America had to offer.
Anders said that the biggest change from the Winnipeg tournament to the North American tour was the level of competition, as well as the speed and athleticism.
“There was both on display but the physicality was different. It was way more physical.”
Team WMBA will now take on Team Ignite, as well as 10 other teams from North and Central America, from Sept. 9-10. If they succeed in Mexico City, they will then move onto the FIBA 3-on-3 World Championship in Abu Dhabi, in October.