Great memories, with many more to come: A special look at the FIBA 3x3 Challenger in Edmonton

Sep. 30, 2020

It has already become a staple at this time of the year on the Edmonton sports calendar: the FIBA 3x3 Challenger at West Edmonton Mall.

In late September 2018, it turned many curious onlookers into 3x3 aficionados with a spectacular debut at the West Edmonton Mall Ice Palace. Twelve months later, it not only managed to deliver on but exceed the high expectations of those who had been waiting all year to experience this one-of-a-kind event again.

So while the global pandemic prevented a third edition of the FIBA 3x3 Challenger in Edmonton from taking place this fall, that can’t stop us from looking back on the fantastic memories created during the two previous years, and looking forward to the many more unforgettable moments that future FIBA 3x3 Challenger events are sure to provide thousands of fans in Edmonton.

In just two years, the FIBA 3x3 Challenger in Edmonton earned a reputation as one of the top FIBA 3X3 Challengers anywhere on the planet. Both years featured two days of elite 3x3 action, drawing many of the top teams in the FIBA world rankings to compete for prize money and a coveted berth in a FIBA 3x3 World Tour event.

One of the planet’s foremost 3x3 squads, NY Harlem, captured the championship at the FIBA 3x3 Challenger in Edmonton in both 2018 and 2019, but not without overcoming some fierce competition from powerhouse opponents the likes of Ralja Intergalactic and Novi Sad.

Courtside bleachers in the Ice Palace were constantly packed with enthusiastic spectators, while many more watched from around the glass on both the upper and lower levels of the West Edmonton Mall concourse. Breaks between games featured innovative performances from break-dancers and hip-hop artists, as well as long distance shooting contests and a slam-dunk demonstration.

Normally a surface used by figure skaters, hockey players, or families going for a leisurely skate, the Ice Palace was transformed into a virtual playground, complete with mini hoops, a giant basketball, and much more.

Additionally, the West Edmonton Mall Ice Palace was also the site of the ground-breaking FIBA 3X3 Women’s Series Final Stop Edmonton last fall. With scores of proud fans cheering them on, Team Canada won the event, which served as the finale for the inaugural season of the FIBA 3X3 Women’s Series.

Though such events were unable to return to Edmonton this year, that hasn’t stopped the Alberta Capital City from further cementing its status as the 3x3 Capital of Canada, and one of the top cities in the world for the burgeoning sport that will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo; This summer it was announced that the Edmonton EXPO Centre is now home of the Canada 3x3 Training Centre. Canada Basketball’s 3x3 national team practice on custom 3x3 courts that have been installed within the Expo Centre and utilize the facility for further training and preparation.

Team Canada has earned a sport in the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), which is scheduled to take place May 26-30, 2021, in Graz, Austria, in May 26-30 2021, from which top 3 teams at the OQT advance to the Tokyo Summer Games. Canada currently sits eighth in the FIBA 3x3 federation men’s rankings. The team comprises players with local roots and deep connections to the Alberta basketball community, including Edmonton products Jordan Baker and Steve Sir, along with Jordan Jensen-Whyte and Kyle Landry of Calgary. Team members have also participated during the FIBA 3x3 Challenger in Edmonton, and look forward to being a part of it again before long.

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