Harding helps Australia to bronze medal in Mongolia

Darcy Harding (second from right) teamed up with Andrew Steel, Lucas Barker and Owen Odigie to bring home a bronze medal. Photo: FIBA
Darcy Harding (second from right) teamed up with Andrew Steel, Lucas Barker and Owen Odigie to bring home a bronze medal. Photo: FIBA

THE Shoalhaven was represented on the international stage last month in Ulaanbaatar.

Darcy Harding, a former Shoalhaven Tigers junior, was part of the four-man Australian team that won bronze at the FIBA 3x3 Asian Cup in Mongolia.

3x3 basketball is a fairly new format that is only played on half a basketball court.

Each side has three players on the court at any given time, with one substitute available.

The game is played as ‘first to 21’, or the highest score after 10 minutes.

Harding said the result was good considering how new the format is.

“It wasn’t what were after, but with it being pretty new in Australia – and with none of us having played 3x3 basketball before – we did pretty well,” Harding said.

The Australian team played the host nation in a semi-final that went to overtime, but ended up losing 19-17.

Mongolia defeated New Zealand 19-14 in the gold-medal match, while the Aussies defeated Kazakhstan 21-18 to win bronze.

Harding said the format was surprisingly physical considering the smaller playing area.

“It’s non-stop,” he said. 

“You’re flat out, there’s not many stoppages, and you’ve got constant rotations.”

Mongolia is a country sandwiched between China and Russia.

There are no direct flights to the country, so the Aussies had to connect through China.

Despite this, Harding said the amount of travel had little effect on the group’s performance.

“Everyone in the group was pretty experienced with travel,” Harding said. 

“You learn what to do and what not to do, what to eat, when to drink.”

“At the end of the day I think we were alright.”

Although most people wouldn’t peg Mongolia as a basketball nation, Harding said the locals created a fiery atmosphere.

“Because it’s just the half-court, the crowd is always in so close, so even a small crowd feels massive,” he said.

“Our game against Mongolia was huge.

“I don’t think I’ve been in a stadium where it’s been so one-sided.

“It was an incredible game to be a part of, and to go to overtime against a team as good as Mongolia was awesome.”

After the disappointment of losing to Mongolia in the semi-final, the team got the opportunity to watch the gold-medal match.

“We hung around for the rest of the day after we played our bronze-medal game, so we got to watch the final,” Harding said.

“I don’t think it was as entertaining as our game against Mongolia, it kind of got out of hand towards the end.”

Darcy’s mother, Carolyn, had the opportunity to travel to Mongolia with her son, and said the experience was amazing.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” she said. 

“Seeing your own child represent their country is massive.”

“Basketball has always been his passion and his dream, so we support him 100 per cent.”

With 3x3 now on the schedule for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Harding has no doubt about what he wants his next great achievement to be.

“I’d love to represent my country at the Olympics, there’s nothing better than that,” he said. 

“It’s definitely a goal of mine, so we’ll see what happens.”