In 2014, Wyatt Anders and Darcy Coss – two former Manitoba Bisons basketball standouts – were looking for ways to compete during the off-season. They stumbled upon the 3-on-3 World Tour online and were immediately hooked.
“We saw this 3-on-3 build up your points thing online. I was like ‘what is this, it looks kind of cool?’ He [Coss] dug a little deeper and we saw that there was big tournaments and money to be won and world champions,” Anders said.
The duo were hooked immediately, having been exposed to the 3-on-3 format in the past, however they needed a third member to round out their squad. Cue Graham Bodnar – a former two-time Association of Christian College Athletics (ACCA) national champion at Providence University College – who had been playing in 3-on-3 tournaments for over 10 years.
Coss had developed a relationship with Bodnar previously and when he came calling, the wily veteran didn’t let him down.
“When it [3-on-3] started getting more serious, I was going to Ontario just for the one tournament just because there was nothing here, literally asking people that lived out there to play with me,” Bodnar said.
“When they [Coss and Anders] started to do it, it blew my mind, because I’d never had anyone consistently. They wanted to travel and do it, it was mind-blowing.”
The “big three” quickly developed chemistry and were effective from the outset thanks to their size-athleticism combination, which made them tough to guard in space but also gave them an edge on the defensive side.
In their first year as a unit in 2014, they won the Winnipeg and Toronto tournaments before placing 10th in the masters tournament in Chicago. Last year, they improved upon their performance at the masters, placing fourth in Mexico City.
This year the squad – along with fourth member O’Neil Gordon – have stepped up their level even more. For the first time, they’ve gotten sponsorship, participating under the team name “Acceleration Performance,” a local sport performance centre where the group trains twice a week on top of their on-court sessions four times a week.
“The idea was if we call ourselves something, if we become an actual team and not just the three of us and get a name and promote ourselves as such, that we will be able to acquire funding,” Coss said.
“It’s hard to say, ‘support Graham, Wyatt, and Darcy.’ That’s fine, but people like supporting something not just a group of people.”
Additionally, they will be travelling all summer, participating in tournaments all over Canada and the United States, as well as one in Europe in an attempt to qualify for the World Tour and gain as many points as possible along the way.
The team will also be hosting a 3-on-3 fundraising tournament from June 17-19 at the U of W’s Duckworth Centre. A portion of the proceeds will also be going to CancerCare Manitoba. The link can be found on Basketball Manitoba’s website.
Team Acceleration Performance has set up a gofundme page to help cover the cost of travel. The link can be accessed, along with training and tournament updates on their Facebook page, 3×3 Acceleration Performance.