After turning pro, Zamojski-led Warsaw are out for FIBA 3x3 World Tour's crown
WARSAW (Poland) - Be warned, these Polish hoopers are now fully dedicated to 3x3 and ready to take the FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2022 by storm.
Poland has long been a force in 3x3 underlined by memorably winning bronze at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2019 but 2021 proved a difference maker for them.
After qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics and winning bronze at FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup 2021, Poland's 3x3 players struck a three-year sponsorship deal with Lotto (the Polish national lottery) while also receiving invaluable funding through Poland's basketball federation and the country's Olympic committee.
It means Poland's 3x3 players - who double as Team Warsaw on the pro circuit - are now fully professional and can dedicate themselves fully to the 10-minute sprint.
They have full-time staff, which includes coaches, a physiotherapist and a strength and conditioning trainer. But turning pro means acting pro and these dudes are putting the work in.
They train five days a week, which includes gruelling weight sessions, and on Saturdays scrimmage against anyone game to take them on. Sunday is their dedicated day of rest when they heal aches and bruises accumulated through the hectic week.
It's given them also more time to learn tactics and strategize. "We have really been working on our defense and it's just been great to be able to spend all our time getting better," said Poland and Warsaw star Przemyslaw Zamojski.
And the extra work is paying off with Warsaw having started 2022 with victory in the Firstcaution 3x3 Trophy in Zurich where Zamojski hit an insane 53 points. They also were runners-up at Dubai Expo 3x3 Super Quest. This is how Warsaw clinched their ticket to the Novi Sad Challenger and Manila Masters.
If there's a player who's ready to fight for 3x3's crown, it might just be 6ft. 4in (1.94m) Zamojski whose hot shooting and athleticism was on full display when he lit up last year's Europe Cup to finish on the team of the tournament.
The walking bucket has the nasty ability to splash from deep with his eyes closed - maybe that's a stretch, but don't bet against it! - while also finishing at the hole with ease.
The bad news for opponents: he's meaner and leaner now as Zamojski is set to make a jump in a game he understands a lot better. "I've been working on getting better with the pick and roll and how to find teammates open shots," he said. "I just want to be a leader for this team and help us keep improving."
Zamojski looms as the natural successor to Polish 3x3 legend Michael Hicks, who has been one of the game's greatest players and showmen.
"He (Hicks) showed me a lot about the game when I started, so it would be an honor to follow his footsteps and try to inspire the 3x3 youth in Poland," Zamojski said. "There is a lot of talent in 3x3 youth in Poland and the game has really taken off since we played in the Olympics."
Having decided to focus solely on 3x3 three years ago, after quitting his basketball career that saw him compete in three FIBA EuroBaskets, the 35-year-old now feels satisfied with that difficult decision. "I realized back then that I needed to play more 3x3 games because 3x3 is very different to basketball.
"I knew it was the right moment to focus on 3x3 and help plant a flag for 3x3 in Poland."
Armed with their newfound status, there will naturally be high expectations for Warsaw and Poland to be dominant this year in what will be a test of their professional credentials. But they are challenges Zamojski is ready to embrace with the Poles daring to dream big.
"There is no reason why Poland can't win gold at the World Cup," he said. "And our goal on the World Tour is to win a Masters.
"It will be a very tough task but we have all the tools now and we plan to use them to the best of our ability."