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Malta players transitioning into ‘3×3 mode’ says Lecuyer ahead of GSSE debut

The Malta 3x3 women's basketball team (From left to right): Anna Fenech Pace, Sasha Lecuyer, Julia Xerri, Claire Ciantar.

Basketball’s 3×3 competition makes its Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) debut on Wednesday in the 2023 edition. 

Malta will be fielding a squad in both the men’s and women’s game and despite the strong challenge from Luxembourg, Cyprus, and Andorra, Gold remains the goal.

Speaking to the Times of Malta, Sasha Lecuyer, part of the women’s team, said being part of the first-ever GSSE 3×3 squad is a spectacular feeling.

“It’s definitely an exciting feeling, especially forming part of the first Malta team to take part in the 3×3 GSSE games,” the Loughborough Riders guard said. 

“It isn’t something that comes around that often, so it is quite spectacular. With the competition being on home soil, I definitely am excited and thrilled – having a home crowd supporting us and everyone being behind us, it doesn’t get much better than that! 

“We’ve been training hard and I’m sure we will prove to everyone what we and Malta are made of! There’s no pressure on us to perform which gives us less stress and allows us to clearly focus on the games ahead.”

Malta’s 3×3 women’s team has most recently taken part in last year’s FIBA Europe Cup qualifiers but since then, all of the last year’s players have shifted to the 5×5 games. In turn, the Malta team will consist of players who have had no connection to 3×3 prior to GSSE – a team consisting of Lecuyer, Claire Ciantar, Julia Xerri, and Anna Fenech Pace. Asked about this, Lecuyer said that while there is an element of inexperience, their style of play together has given them a boost for this week’s Games.

“Yes, we are all young and it is our first time performing in a 3×3 competition like this, so there is definitely some inexperience but with all the help we’ve had from our coaching and support team we’ve managed to transition into ‘3×3 mode’, as coach Angela (Adamoli) would say,” she said. 

“3×3 is a completely different ball game and to see how far we’ve come in just two weeks is amazing. Especially hearing positive comments on our style of play and the way we’ve gelled together. It gives us a boost and drives us to perform better. It truly is incredible. Especially speaking to players who have played in international 3×3 events. Their input is very important to us.”

Cyprus, Luxembourg reunion

Malta faces tough opposition, particularly Cyprus who had won last year’s FIBA qualifiers.

“The whole team has been watching the way Luxembourg and Cyprus played last year,” she explained. 

“Obviously it’s hard to fully analyse everything as the opposing teams this year have some different players. However, we feel that Luxembourg will be our biggest competition as they are tall and have a lot of previous experience. 

“We have played against the players of Andorra in previous FIBA tournaments so we have an idea of how they play and what we have to do to be able to stop them.

“We’ve definitely been training hard and are capable of anything if we set our minds to it and come out with the right mentality to play”.

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