The Barker Hangar, in Santa Monica, CA, sits right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Breezy winds pick up off the water and make their way through the Hangar, providing a natural air conditioner. During the day, sunlight floods the space, even though it’s only open on one side. A balcony overlooks the whole Hangar and from that view, a portion of the rest of the sprawling Santa Monica Airport can be seen.
The Hangar, and its 35,000 square feet, has become a hotspot for all types of events in recent years. Car shows, concerts, and design fairs have all come through at different points.
This weekend, though, the Hangar played host to hoopers from the greater-Los Angeles area and the final stop of the six-city #DewNBA3X tour. The nationwide 3-on-3 tournament kicked off in May and made its way through Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Chicago and Houston. Thousands of men and women competed for the grand prize—a chance to represent America at the FIBA 3×3 tournaments at the end of this year.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) October 22, 2016
On Saturday, teams representing Los Angeles vied for a spot to play on Sunday (against the winners from the previous five cities), when the FIBA spot would be on the line. Familiar names like Youtube sensation and NBA player impersonator Brandon Armstrong, better known as BdotAdot5, and Franklin Session, Damian Lillard’s teammate at Weber State, suited up on Saturday. Additionally, former and current NBA players like Gary Payton, Baron Davis, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson all stopped by as well.
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“The rules are really different. I wasn’t expecting any of this,” Armstrong said. “Once the team scores, you gotta get the ball and throw it back out. So the first possession they scored, I got it and walked it back out to check it out. They called a travel on me,” he said with a smile.
FIBA has made sure to make the playing and watching experience very different from 5-on-5 ball. Games are to 21, or whoever has the most points after the 10-minute clock expires. There’s a 12-second shot clock and like Bdot said, there’s no checking after buckets. Instead, players grab the ball straight out the basket and throw it up top, past the three-point line.
The game’s played with 1 and 2-pointers. When fouled, teams get one shot until their opponent commits six team fouls, after which they get two shots.
The pace of the game isn’t at all like 5-on-5, which DewNBA3X ambassador Gary Payton noticed.
“Three-on-three, you gotta play defense,” The Glove said. “It’s a lot different. Now you gotta buckle down and guard.”
Team Harlem got the message. The four native New Yorkers traveled out west to win the LA crown and eventually the whole tour.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) October 25, 2016
And yes, a team from New York represented LA. But because the #DewNBA3X tour didn’t have a stop in New York, Anthony Cox, Kavon Lytch, Domo Jones and Dave Seagers traveled across the country to compete for the title of Los Angeles’ best team.
The foursome played a grueling brand of basketball, punishing anyone that stood between them and the basket. They were all capable of getting buckets by themselves and were willing passers when teams brought two or more bodies.
Their game oozed New York. They played one-on-one, dribble breakdown ball, prioritizing getting to the rim over jumpshots. With Cox and Lytch standing 6-9 and 6-7, respectively, their height and athleticism was just too much for The Unknowns (Chicago) to overcome.
“It’s so funny because one of us is always with the other one,” Cox says. “We’ve been playing together for a while, a couple of years. We started off enemies. I played on a different team against Kavon. Dave, you think you got him, and then somehow he gets that bucket. He’s one of those annoying players. But you love his game. It’s a compliment. And Domo… that kid is amazing.”
[Domo] Jones plays with a raw desire to prove his height won’t stop him from getting where he wants to go. His strength was a mismatch for any guard he played against. He was a bully throughout every game, managing everyone on the court.
“We just knew if we played our game, we were going to come out victorious,” Jones says. “We’re all about that New York toughness. That’s all we do, is bring that toughness. Every where we go, we gotta represent where we’re from because ain’t nobody going to give us no passes so we earn it.”
They earned a trip to Doha for the 2016 FIBA 3×3 All-Stars game and at some point down the line, could be representing America in the 2020 Olympics, when 3×3 will become an official sport.
Though Armstrong’s team didn’t make it out of the first day, the YouTube star has already recognized that 3×3 ball is here to stay.
“It’s definitely something that [basketball players] can actually make a career out of and travel the world doing,” he says.