Former Northwestern basketball player Craig Moore and Team USA fell in the quarterfinals to Serbia of the FIBA 3x3 World Cup in Nantes, France on Wednesday. The Americans had advanced to the quarters after posting a 3-1 record in Group D, but lost a tight 17-14 game to the favored squad from Serbia, who went on to win its third 3x3 title at the end of the day.
3x3 basketball is exactly what it sounds like. The game is a recreation of classic pickup games played in streets and gyms around the globe. It’s halfcourt basketball, points go by ones and twos, and there’s a 12-second shot clock. The variant of basketball was recently added to the 2020 Olympics on June 9 just before the World Cup in Nantes. We shall see if Craig Moore is selected to make the trip to Tokyo.
Team USA went 3-1 in the group stage with dominant wins over South Korea, New Zealand and Indonesia. The team’s only loss in the group stage was a 19-12 defeat to the Netherlands. In the quarterfinals, Team USA drew No. 1-seeded Serbia. The Serbians defeated a different American team in the finals last season, so Team USA was out for revenge.
True to form, Craig Moore was canning twos throughout the tournament (remember, shots from three-point range count as two points, because this is street ball!). A 7-2 USA run started by a shot from Moore put Team USA up 9-7 with 5:45 left. Team USA tied the game at 12-12 after two Mavraides layups, but Serbia prevailed in the clutch from distance and won 17-14 as the 10-minute clock expired. Serbia would crush France 22-11 in the semifinals and won 21-18 over the Netherlands in the final. Craig Moore had a good tournament. In addition to the two points in the finals, he scored the game-winning points against New Zealand in the group stage.
Moore played four seasons at Northwestern between 2005-2009 and averaged 10.7 points per game. His teammates—Daniel Mavraides (Princeton), Damon Huffman (Brown) and Zahig Carrington (Princeton) are all also former college basketball players. They all also went to really good schools. This is important.
Moore and his teammates, also known as “Ariel Slow & Steady”, won a national 3x3 tournament to make it to Nantes. Moore is the three-point specialist of the team, coming in for instant offense. In a development that is entirely unsurprising given the team’s background, Team Ariel plays the Princeton offense. Its main backer, financier and ex-college basketball playey John Rogers, played under Pete Carill at Princeton. Actually, most of this team consists of bankers from elite schools. The name “Ariel Slow & Steady” comes from Ariel Investments, Rogers’ investment firm.
Basically, this team is a bunch of middle-aged, ex-college basketball players who played at smart schools. They all take time off their jobs as corporate executives and investment bankers to play 3x3 basketball internationally. Oh yeah, and they play the Princeton offense. Sounds perfect for a three-point ace who played under the Princeton for his entire Northwestern career. CARMODY LIVES!
(Sidenote: Isn’t this the least “street” basketball team you can possibly imagine? Just a thought.)
Moore also competed for Team USA in 2014. This time around, he vastly improved on his 14th-placed finish in 2014. He may not look like an Olympic player just yet, but that won’t stop him.
“Steph Curry’s not the most athletic guy either,” Moore said in an interview with FIBA after he lifted the National trophy. “Still he’s doing pretty good in NBA. So athleticism is a nice attribute, but not the be-all and end-all. France isn’t going to be easier, but what is? We play to win.”
Preach on, Craig.