In two weeks, Saskatoon will host the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Masters.
Team Saskatoon is ranked fourth in the world and is busy in preparation.
“We’ve been training fairly hard and we’re getting together quite a bit putting our shoes to the hardwood and it’s been a good experience so far,” Team Saskatoon captain Michael Linklater said.
“Any time you get a chance to win in front of your family, in front of your friends, in front of acquaintances and fans … it’s huge.”
Team Saskatoon features three alumni from the University of Saskatchewan’s 2009-10 national championship team: Michael Linklater, Nolan Brudehl, and Micheal Lieffers. They are joined by Edmonton’s Steve Sir for the 2017 FIBA season.
The local squad, which placed second in the 2014 world tour finals, has been hitting the gym too, seeking every possible advantage going into the event.
“Ten minutes, first to 21 points, you get tired and trying to focus, it’s a lot different than five-on-five and that three-on-three, if you’re not focused and in the game it’s going to be a tough loss,” Brudehl said.
It’s not just the thought of winning at home that’s driving the Bridge City ballers. The recent news that three-on-three basketball will have full medal status for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has them dreaming big.
“That possibility in the back of our minds to go to the Olympics and possibly represent Canada is very exciting. Every kid who plays a sport dreams about representing their country at the Olympics,” Linklater said.
A world tour finals title would certainly put Team Saskatoon on Canada’s Olympic radar but first they need to qualify and a victory on home court would take care of that.
The FIBA 3×3 World Tour Masters bounces through Saskatoon from July 14 to 16. The event features 12 teams from around the world including Slovenia, Japan and Brazil.