By Jackson Russell
The Whittlesea Pacers are going to be represented on the world stage with senior women’s coach Damon Lowery named coach of the Australian women’s team for the FIBA 3×3 World Cup.
The international tournament will be in Amsterdam later this month.
The call-up comes after Lowery coached the team to success at the World Cup qualifier in Puerto Rico in May.
Lowery said it was his first major tournament and the atmosphere in San Juan was incredible.
“I’ve watched plenty of tournaments with the Boomers, Opals or Under 23s but to be a part of that and the atmosphere was incredible,” he said.
“We played Puerto Rico and the entire crowd was chanting.
“We ended up beating them pretty good but just the atmosphere, it was like a festival. It’s like the playground except with everybody watching.”
Much like three-on-three basketball played on half-courts across the world, the games are played outside and with one and two-point shots instead of twos and threes.
It’s the playground atmosphere that Lowery likes about three-on-three basketball.
“Three-on-three takes all of the elements from the playground, keeps the game outside and keep the coaches out of it because there are no coaches in the playground,” he said.
“From the coaching side, you have to do all of your coaching beforehand in the lobby, at breakfast, on the bus, sometimes in the stands right before they run out.”
With just four players in the squad and three on the court, a 12-second shot clock and constant music, there’s not much time for complicated plays – players just need a framework and the trust of their coach.
Lowery said he was almost left speechless when he got the call.
“I’ve heard people talk about it being a surreal feeling and I didn’t get it but I know exactly what they’re talking about after I got the job,” he said.
“I’ve been here for 30 years and I’ve never coached state teams or got in the coaching system, I just did my own thing so I never thought I would get this opportunity but luckily three by three totally suits everything about me. It’s a perfect fit.”
Lowery and his team have a chance to qualify for next year’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where the 3×3 format will debut as an official Olympic sport, with a top-three finish.
Lowery’s team definitely doesn’t lack offence with a squad of WNBL MVP runner-up Bec Cole, Keely Froling, Alice Kunek and Maddie Garrick.
“Keely is 6’2”, athletic and can shoot the three, she was our best defender in Puerto Rico.
Alice is another 6’1” scorer who provides crazy matchups; if you put a big girl on her, she’s too skillful, you put a little girl on her then she just bullies you down low,” Lowery said.
“Bec just scores and gets to the rim and Maddie is just a knockdown shooter and can get to the basket and is a tremendous perimeter defender.
“I feel like I’ve got all the pieces, all the attributes you need. As a group, all four can play great but individually, all four can score.”
Lowery said the support from the Pacers was fantastic.
“I’ve been in Whittlesea for three years and I’m getting all the well wishes from the president and the board, from my senior women’s team, from the juniors, everybody’s been real supportive,” he said.
“Whittlesea’s that club, we’re never going to be as big as Eltham, Diamond Valley or Bulleen but we’re still trying to build something out this way and we want to be ‘the Force in the North’ and I think this just helps raise our profile.”