USA Basketball 3×3 National Tournaments – A view from the players

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Comingthis March 21-22, 2015 is the return of the BAM Jam 3×3 basketball tournament, an official USA Basketball 3×3 National Qualifying Tournament. BAM Jam will welcome nearly 200 teams from around the northwest ranging from 10 years old to 40+.


While the 6th Annual BAM Jam has divisions for everyone, this will be the second year that the tournament’s elite divisions will qualify for the USA Basketball 3×3 National Tournaments at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“When you walk on the OTC campus, you have that ‘Ahhh’ moment,” said Booker Nabors, a member of last year’s qualifying team from BAM Jam. “It is a world class training facility.”




OPPORTUNITY TAKEN BUT MOTIVATION RENEWED

Nabors knows a thing or two about training.

A Boise, Idaho native and former player at Boise State University, Nabors has seen his fair share of training facilities. Now, living in the Denver area and working for a nutritional supplement company, Nabors relishes the chance to get back and compete for the opportunity to play at the National Tournament again this year. For him, it is a chance to seize an opportunity that was taken from him last year.

“When we got to the OTC last year, everything was fine on Friday,” Nabors recalled.

But as the night went on and led to the morning, things certainly were no longer fine. His elbow began to swell. The trainers at the OTC drained it but it continued to get worse. He was unable to play on Saturday, forced to watch from the sidelines.

Sunday things got worse.

His entire arm was now swelling up and he was admitted to the emergency room at a local hospital. While his teammates battled at the national tournament with no subs, Nabors was diagnosed with a staph infection. He would return to Boise a day later and spend three more days in a Boise hospital.

“Playing in the National Tournament was more than just a chance to play for a championship. You are playing for a chance to represent your country. It gives you a renewed sense of motivation. I just hope a get the chance to get back there again this year.”


Nabors will begin that journey back to the National Tournament through BAM Jam this spring.

YOUNG COMPETITORS TAKE IT ALL IN

Nabors is not the only BAM Jam champion trying to return to the National Tournaments.

Gibson Berryhill was on the team that won the Boys High School Elite (U18) division last summer and his team had an excellent showing at the U18 National Tournament.

“The National Tournament was first class,” said Berryhill. “The way that they scheduled it, the coaching and NBA guys there. Even the cafeteria was amazing.”

Berryhill and his teammates have had an impressive run on the court over the last year and a half. Besides having won the last spring BAM Jam, they have won the previous two summer BAM Jams, won the Hoopfest high school division and are all currently teammates at Timberline High School in Boise, Idaho, one of the top teams in the state.

“We’ve been playing together forever and it has really helped our success and 3×3 is a part of that. In 3×3 there are really no sets to run, you just have to know each other. It’s a great way to go out and play loose, build chemistry and have a great time together,” said Berryhill.

But he did mention that the FIBA rules for 3×3 make the game even more fun because it increases the pace and brings strategy more in to play.

Their team was not very big but with a solid game plan they were able to compete with every team at the National Tournament.

“The first day at the National Tournament, the coaches there worked with us both on skill and on strategy,” Berryhill pointed out. “They were great. They really made us feel like we were a part of [USA Basketball]. They talked to us about strategy and even had the men’s and women’s teams come in and go through some examples. It helped us come up with the game plan we would use.”

Berryhill said that he is still in contact with several of the coaches he met in Colorado Springs.

This year, Berryhill faces a new challenge. With the cutoff birth date for the U18 division at January 1, 1997, Berryhill is now too old to compete in that division but he doesn’t plan to let that keep him away.

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“I definitely plan to compete in the Men’s Elite Division of BAM Jam this spring.” Will we see a champion vs. champion match up?

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE NATIONAL TOURNAMENTS

After talking to players that have competed at the USA Basketball 3×3 National Tournaments, a few things continuously stood out.

The first is that USA Basketball treats their on campus guests with an experience that is second to none. The players are instantly immersed in USA Olympic history including basketball, track and field, swimming and more. They were housed, fed, coached and even trained by USA staff.

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“It took me back to my college days,” said Nabors. “The trip to the OTC, the staying with the guys, preparing for new competition‚Ķit was great.”

The second thing that is obvious is that the FIBA 3×3 rules are a big hit. All the players admitted that it took a little adjustment but they liked the fast pace, the shot clock, the no check rule and emphasis on strategy.

ABOUT BAM JAM – WHERE SHOULD I PLAY?

Whether you are an elite level team that wants to qualify for the USA Basketball 3×3 National Tournaments or you are either younger or just looking for a less intense experience, BAM Jam has you covered.

Elite divisions – This year, USA Basketball has offered two spots to their National Tournaments to the top two teams in each of the BAM Jam Men’s Elite (6’0 and Over), Women’s Elite, Boys High School Elite (U18) and Girls High School Elite (U18). Players must be United States citizens and the high school elite players must be born on or after January 1, 1997. FIBA rules are used, all games are officiated by certified officials and games take place on the main courts. Great packages are given to the winners (in addition to qualifying).

High school and Adult less competitive divisions – If you are an adult team that is looking for a fun time at a very well organized tournament but are looking for a bit more relaxed atmosphere, check out the competitive or recreational divisions. You still get a two game guarantee and a chance to win a BAM Jam championship shirt.

Youth divisions – For players in the 3rd-8th grades, there are youth divisions set up specifically for you. Divisions never have more than one year of separation and all courts have a volunteer referee.

To register your team for BAM Jam, visit www.bamjamboise.com. The tournament is March 21-22, 2015 and registrations are due on or before March 8, 2015.