(Toronto, ON) Four players representing Canada, appropriately named ‘She The North’, popped champagne, as they were crowned Red Bull Reign world champions! A total of 20 teams congregated under The Bentway this past Sunday to compete in a global 3-on-3 basketball tournament, hosted by the multinational energy drink.
Four countries competed in the women’s division and 16 for men’s. For the men’s division, Estonia claimed the throne, convincingly defeating Russia 21-7 in the championship game. Team Canada (Vancouver) lost in overtime in the semi-finals against Russia. In Red Bull Reign, winners were determined after 10 minutes of regulation time or by the first team to score 21 points.
“Redbull has been known for its involvement in extreme sports, but seeing it go all out for basketball and especially on the women’s side too, is huge,” raved women’s Red Bull Reign champ and 3X3 women’s national team member Mariah Nunes.
“(Red Bull) will definitely grow the interest of female ballers, especially in Toronto. I’ve had so many female ballers hitting me up on social media saying how they regret not entering or that they are super excited for next year.”
The event was electrifying with an endless supply of humorous punchlines from MC Q Mack and also the energy emanated from the voice of Popz. Before the finals match-ups, an incredible duet of beatboxer Scott Jackson and violinist Eugene Draw dazzled the crowd. This was followed by high-flying dunks from Justin “Jus Fly” Darlington, Daniel Kabeya, Nickolas “Juvi” Gardner, Robert Nortmann and Team Canada’s Clay Crellin.
SHE THE NORTH REIGNS SUPREME
A free throw by Danielle Garven gave Canada their first title, defeating Hong Kong 21-16.
Three of the four members of She the North also competed in the FIBA GTA 3×3 tournament earlier this summer, so they came into this tournament with synergy. Keneca Giles played with a Kyle Lowry-esque ferocity throughout the day. Danielle Garven brought size and post play down low; Mariah Nunes’ showed off her driving ability and strong finishes at the rim; and Jamie Hutcheson brought a versatile skill set to the world champs.
CANADA’S MEN’S TEAM RECOVERED FROM A SLOW START
The headliner of the tournament, Joey Haywood or better known as ‘King Handles’, who boasts over 141k Instagram followers and his teammates represented Canada, coming all the way from Vancouver. Haywood’s story gained notoriety outside the basketball community through a VICE documentary, garnering over 1.6 million views. Canada also featured Demitri Harris, Elliot Mason and Crellin.
Considering Canada’s slow start in the first round robin games, getting to the semi-finals was an accomplishment. The intensity revved up with each game, most notably in the second round robin game where Canada defeated eventual champions Estonia 14-5.
RED BULL REIGN CREATING A GLOBAL HOOPS COMMUNITY
Displays of raw emotion unfolded throughout the day. Given the long distances travelled to compete in Toronto, every team was determined to win.
When the UK lost to Netherlands by one point in the second round, Tarryn Algar sat in solitude, head sunk in his hands, blankly staring into the court where he had just suffered defeat. Players around the globe came and congratulated him on his team’s efforts in show of solidarity.
When Russia lost to Estonia in the finals, Denis Bergman laid stomach down on the grassy hill overlooking the Red Bull courts in sheer exhaustion. Perhaps, he couldn’t fathom a second place finish after all the effort he put in.
Summer tournaments like Red Bull Reign allow players to showcase the skills they develop during all the unseen hours in the gym. For them, global tournaments are just as much a professional conference, allowing them to forge new and build on existing relationships.
Next summer, 3×3 basketball will be an official Olympic sport in Tokyo. August has also been a great month for Canada’s 3×3 women’s national team as they won back-to-back tournaments in Czech Republic and Romania, positioning them strongly for the Olympic qualifying tournament.
3×3 basketball and Red Bull Reign will only continue to grow as the physicality and intimate half-court setting provide an entertaining product to hoops fans worldwide.
Written by Teru Ikeda. Check out Teru on Twitter
Photos courtesy Red Bull Canada/Red Bull Reign