Michael Lieffers (left) playing against team Ljubljana. (Photo credit: FIBA.com).
On July 14-16, Saskatoon Tourism in partnership with Canada Basketball, will be hosting the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters. The tournament will host 12 teams from around the world.
3x3 basketball is inspired by several forms of street-ball and known for its urban, innovative spirit. Loud music, masses of spectators, quirky locations (such as downtown Saskatoon) are paired with a stripped-down version of basketball: a small, three-a-side team, half a court and one net. With over 250 million players worldwide, 3x3 basketball is one of the most played recreational sports. Lieffers credits his experience on the University of Saskatchewan's basketball team not only for his love of 3x3, but for helping him develop off the court. "I wouldn't be where I am today without the Huskies—from the incredible coaches to the solid teammates I had, the Huskies really set a precedence in sport in my life."
Lieffers and his teammates still connect with the Huskies often scrimmaging together or using their court for practice. In the case of the Saskatoon team, 3 of the 4 members are Huskie alum. It was through playing together as Huskies that Lieffers and his 3x3 teammates Nolan Brudehl (BScKin'13) and Michael Linklater bonded. Now they're looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd. "We're thrilled to have our family, friends, and the university community cheering us on," he said. "We want to thank everyone for their support and show them what we've been a part of for all of these years".
As 3x3 basketball will be a sport in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Lieffers is excited for the game to continue to gain popularity and recognition. The Saskatoon Masters tournament will offer an amateur tournament; Lieffers hopes that youth come out to experience the unique quality of the sport. "It's given me the opportunity to play professionally with some of the people I love most, travel the world, and still manage to start a family and focus on a building an academic career," he says.