Sir returns in new colors and he might just be Mongolia 3×3’s missing piece
The Canadian 3×3 legend – who may be the greatest shooter in history and jointly holds the penalty shootout contest record – will be the player-manager of everyone’s favorite underdog Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy at FIBA 3×3 World Tour this year.
Sir will also serve as coach and director of player development for Mongolia’s national teams, including the men’s and women’s teams who are hoping to make a serious breakthrough at the FIBA 3×3 Basketball World Cup 2022. His return to the pitch may come as a surprise to those who watched his emotional departure at the Montreal Masters last year, but Sir insists he never officially left the building.
“Covid had affected the sport so much in Canada that we could barely train and it got to the point last year where I felt like my time in 3×3 was coming to an end,” he said. he declares. “I was like ‘how can I keep playing because the level of talent keeps growing’.”
But his starring role for Canada in the inaugural FIBA 3×3 AmeriCup 2021 answered any lingering doubts.
“I always felt good,” Sir said. “I still love to play and compete. The big challenge will be to see if I can still and that inspires me to work hard.”
After spending time in Ulaanbaatar last October helping the Mongolian 3×3, Sir has built chemistry with players and officials leading up to his new gig where he will be based in Mongolia’s historic capital for most of the year.
“To do it right, we talked about the importance of being there,” he said. “Relations with the players are important and invested in improving them.
“I’ve had a good relationship with (team delegate) Batt Gotov, who’s been great and has been a key part of Mongolia’s investment in 3×3 over the years. They’re completely in the 3×3. And the next step is to build on that.”
It’s pretty obvious what Sir can bring to the field – strong leadership and, of course, deep laser precision. “Shooting is something they’ve struggled with in the past,” he said. “Being able to shoot the ball regularly from outside is something I bring, but it can also help others improve.”
Despite being a de facto player/coach/team manager for Edmonton and Canada, Sir is now officially moving into coaching and hopes to take Mongolia to another level.
The Mongolia men’s team were memorably champions of the FIBA 3×3 Asian Cup 2017 on home soil, followed by runners-up in 2018 and 2019, while their women played at the Tokyo Olympics – the first Mongolian team to represent the country in an Olympic team sport.
“We want to play with tenacity and solidarity,” said Sir. “With Edmonton we played fast which was a tough style to play against. I hope to add that but you have to find a style that fits.
“Hopefully we can raise the level of expectation and put pressure on the players who need to improve their game. It’s a great opportunity because they’ve already got the basics in place.”
While Sir’s priority is to elevate Mongolian 3×3 to new heights – while reminding everyone that he hasn’t lost touch with the shooter – he is also relishing the cultural experience of moving to a country which has only 3.3 million inhabitants, very different from its homeland.
“It’s very different being a city dweller in Edmonton,” he said. “In the Mongolian culture, they don’t let just anyone in. The level of sharing and caring is very inspiring.
“It’s a very isolating and loyal culture. Being a basketball nomad myself, there was a commonality between the groups.”
To make the trip even more special, Sir will be joined in Mongolia by his wife and daughters aged 10 and 6.
“I am thrilled that my wife and children have this opportunity in life,” he said. “It will be an amazing cultural experience and I hope I can also contribute positively to Mongolian 3×3.”