The Dalhousie University Tigers received some unique representation on the world basketball stage over the summer.
Lia Kentzler from the women’s basketball team suited up for Germany in the FIBA 3×3 U23 Nations League in July and August. The Gottingen, Germany native’s team played in the Europe 1 conference this summer, which was played across six different stops –– separate locations where a portion of the season’s games are played –– over two months.
Playing for her country was an honour, Kentzler said, one which will help her in the 2021-2022 season.
“It was really a great experience to play with top players from my country and obviously against top players from other nations,” she said.
3×3 versus regular basketball
The FIBA 3×3 U23 Nations League began in 2017, with seasons taking place every year since then besides 2020 due to COVID-19.
A 3×3 (pronounced three-ex-three) game differs from a regular one. There are only three players per team on the court at once, instead of five. Other rule changes include playing in just one half of the court with one net, and games last until one team scores 21 points or until ten minutes have been played. As for scoring, shots made from inside the three-point arc count as one point and shots from outside are worth two points.
A change of rules like this brings out distinct skills from players. A 12-second shot clock forces players to find a shot quicker and the pace of play is different due to the smaller court.
“I feel like I’ve improved my decision-making because in 3×3, you have to make quicker decisions and there aren’t really positions, so you have to be able to shoot the ball,
drive and guard every position,” Kentzler said. “I feel like this could definitely help this upcoming season.”
Applying 3×3 skills in the AUS
Guarding is an asset for the six-foot-one centre. With the ability to guard multiple positions, she can switch onto other attackers. In the centre position, it’s important to be able to switch when other teams run their set offensive plays like the pick and roll.
Anton Berry, the Tiger’s interim women’s basketball coach, said Kentzler’s defensive versatility will be valuable.
“The defensive schemes that we’re going to employ for her to be able to guard, pretty much one through five, that there is a luxury for us,” Berry said. One through five meaning each position on the floor.
In the half-court of 3×3, centres are relied upon for their size and physicality to rise over players close to the basket. When her team needs points, Kentzler will have improved her ability to provide them over opponents’ heads after her practice in the half-court this offseason.
“Her length and touch around the basket is a pretty good skill set that she has,” Berry said. “If we can get her running to the rim early in transition to get some easy buckets I think that she can help us out that way.”
There are no stoppages in play during the FIBA 3×3 games, which means coaches cannot intervene as much. This aspect adds a level of decision-making and independence for players. With help from Berry and his staff, Kentzler will be well-equipped to make the right decisions on the floor.
Having played in multiple 3×3 tournaments in Belgium and Germany, along with in the 3×3 Nations League, Kentzler played several games a day this summer. These tournaments, she said, allowed her to prepare for the upcoming Atlantic University Sport (AUS) season and stay in shape.
“The entire summer I was playing games, tournaments and had practiced so I think I really worked on my game,” she said. “I hope I can help my team to win a lot of games here.”