Live basketball was back in Omaha, Nebraska for a weekend of 3×3 games during the American 3baller series from Aug. 15-16.
What was supposed to be a multi-week event in the Capitol District with fans inevitably turned into a private event that resembled a smaller version of the NBA’s “bubble”, which has helped keep the NBA season going during the pandemic.
Regardless of how it was presented, Omaha still got its first look at three-on-three basketball. The sport was supposed to make its debut this summer at the Olympics, but will instead have to wait until 2021. Michael Wranovics, 3BallUSA CEO, wanted to bring the event in the safest way possible. Only local players were invited to play and testing was mandatory for both days.
There are a few small differences in the way three-on-three basketball is played. The game is only played in one half of the court and the first team to 21 wins, with points being scored in twos and threes. A fan might recognize it as being very similar to the type of pickup basketball that can be found at a local gym.
Fans of the Mavericks will likely recognize many of the names playing in the tournament. Former UNO standout Tre’Shawn Thurman was among the notable names in the 16 player pool. Another local legend is Will Artino, a former Creighton basketball sharp shooter, who led the charge in inviting players as the Director of Player Relations. Every player on the roster has a tie to Nebraska in one way or another.
“Just about everyone here has been in the limelight in Omaha at some point in their career,” Artino said. “Just to see everyone back on one court again, it’s a rare occasion.”
At the end of the two days of play, a team composed of Dylan Travis, Trey Bardsley, Steffon Bradford and Klaye Rowe took the American 3Baller crown. Players were also awarded $1000 each in prize money. This winning team had the advantage of being around the longest, as all the participants started playing together in 2019. Most of the other teams were newly formed for this tournament.
For his remarkable performance, Travis, a Gross High School graduate and former Florida Southern guard, was announced as the series MVP. Alongside the trophy, Travis was also given an additional cash prize for being named MVP. But for Travis, it seemed to be more about the basketball than anything else.
“It was fun to get back to basketball,” Travis said. “I haven’t played organized basketball in a long time. I had fun out there and it’s nice to come away with a little money also.”