3-on-3 bas­ket­ball bids for 2020 Games

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

ASIA’S grow­ing fascination with three-on-three bas­ket­ball, the game’s half-court ver­sion which is al­ready hugely pop­u­lar in streets and back­yards the world over, has given the In­ter­na­tional Bas­ket­ball Fed­er­a­tion (FIBA) fresh hope that it can get the sport into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

FIBA’s pre­vi­ous at­tempts to win Olympic sta­tus for the ab­bre­vi­ated for­mat have failed, but the gov­ern­ing body is more op­ti­mistic than ever be­fore be­cause of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee’s (IOC) stated de­sire to in­clude more sports that ap­peal to younger gen­er­a­tions.

Al­though three-on-three bas­ket­ball fits that cri­te­ria and has its own roots in ur­ban Amer­ica, Asia has been the driv­ing force be­hind the in­clu­sion of the high-speed game in ma­jor multi-sports events.

The sport has al­ready been fea­tured at the Asian Beach Games, Asian In­door Games and Asian Youth Games and will be on show at the next Asian Games in 2018. It was also in­cluded at last year’s in­au­gu­ral Euro­pean Games in Azer­bai­jan and, sig­nif­i­cantly, was played at the first two Youth Olympics, which were both held in Asia.

The IOC has in­tro­duced new rules giv­ing Olympic hosts more power and flex­i­bil­ity in choos­ing their own sports and dis­ci­plines, and a de­ci­sion on the fi­nal pro­gram for Tokyo is ex­pected in June 2017 with three-on-three hoops among the list of can­di­dates.

“There’s a lot of dis­cus­sions go­ing on,” said Ni­co­las Wid­mer, a threeon-three de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tant for FIBA. “It won’t re­place five-on-five, it would be an ad­di­tion. It’s a new dis­ci­pline so it doesn’t mean adding a new sport, it’s a new dis­ci­pline from the sport of bas­ket­ball and that’s how we are bid­ding.”

Wid­mer was among a FIBA del­e­ga­tion that trav­elled to cen­tral Viet­nam to mon­i­tor the threeon-three tour­na­ment at the Asian Beach Games. Played out­doors in a tem­po­rary venue next to Danang’s main tourist beach, Wid­mar said the tour­na­ment was a great ad­ver­tise­ment for the sport’s pop­u­lar­ity and in­creas­ing di­ver­sity, with the stands packed at ev­ery ses­sion.

Qatar won the men’s gold medal, beat­ing Mon­go­lia in the fi­nal, while Iraq won the bronze in thrilling fash­ion, with their Texan-based cen­tre Ab­dul­lah Has­san Ali drain­ing a buzzer-beater from out­side the arc to seal his team’s one-point win.

China, which has al­ready started a na­tional pro­gram to de­velop spe­cial­ist three-on-three play­ers, won the women’s gold, beat­ing Thai­land in the fi­nal, while Tai­wan col­lected the bronze.

“It’s a new op­por­tu­nity for new coun­tries, and we’ve seen some re­ally good ex­am­ples at the Asian Beach Games,” Wid­mer said.

“The level of the com­pe­ti­tion was sur­pris­ingly high and we can see that teams pre­pared and prac­tised specif­i­cally for this type of bas­ket­ball. They didn’t just bring play­ers that know bas­ket­ball, they brought play­ers that train specif­i­cally to play three-on-three.

“It’s a univer­sal dis­ci­pline played in a lot of dif­fer­ent coun­tries, and it’s a sport where smaller coun­tries can per­form be­cause you don’t need a lot of in­fra­struc­ture, and it’s a cheap event that can be played any­where.”

Wid­mer said it was too early to spec­u­late on whether NBA play­ers would play three-on-three at the Olympics if it was in­cluded. He said FIBA’s ex­pec­ta­tion was that most coun­tries would fol­low the lead of sevens rugby and beach vol­ley­ball by de­vel­op­ing sep­a­rate squads, al­though he ex­pected a lot of es­tab­lished five-on-five stars would be tempted to try the short­ened for­mat.

“We have good ex­am­ples where teams and play­ers that are to­tally fo­cused on three-on-three beat play­ers that are bet­ter known and very good at five-on-five,” Wid­mer said.

“We ex­pect most NOCs [Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tees] will de­velop spe­cial­ist play­ers but I’m sure there will be some very good five-on-five play­ers who will want to do it be­cause it’s a new op­por­tu­nity for them as well.” –

Photo: AFP

Play­ers com­pete dur­ing a men’s three-on-three bas­ket­ball match on Septem­ber 27 be­tween Qatar (white) and Viet­nam (red) at the Asian Beach Games in Viet­nam.

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