FIBA outlines big ambitions for 3×3 basketball

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

Formerly recognized as more of a fun, casual sport played on the streets, FIBA, basketball’s world governing body, is now trying to develop 3×3 into another legitimate form of basketball.

In order to achieve that goal, FIBA has targeted a place for the sport at the Summer Olympics.

Alex Sanchez, FIBA’s director for 3×3 basketball (which is perhaps more widely known as 3-on-3), is confident that the new game will be an Olympic event at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

“FIBA’s optimistic, cautiously optimistic,” Sanchez said with a smile at a Monday news conference for October’s FIBA 3×3 World Tour Final in Tokyo/Sendai, which will determine the champion team of the global circuit.

The World Tour, which was founded two years ago, will tip off in Manila on July 20. After leaving the Philippines, it travels to Beijing, Chicago, Prague, Lausanne, Switzerland, and Rio de Janeiro.

The final will feature 12 teams, including a Japanese representative as the host nation, and will be played at Xebio Arena Sendai (Despite the tournament’s title, there will be no official competitions in Tokyo).

FIBA made a bid to include a 3×3 competition at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but was rejected. Yet Sanchez, a Spaniard, says 3×3 is a worldwide sport that meets the policy set by the IOC.

Sanchez insists that 3×3 has different attributes from the traditional 5-on-5 game.

“It’s like pizza and pasta. Both are Italian food but taste differently,” he said, comparing the two sports. “And if you talk to the players, they say it’s a completely different game. And for the spectators, the way of watching it is different.”

Meanwhile, the Japanese Basketball Association has gotten down to work on this game this year, creating domestic tournaments and circuits of all levels, from one that top, pro-level players compete in to one in which anyone can participate.

The three-month-long top-flight league, which begins its inaugural season with the opening round in Hiratsuka this Saturday, features top domestic 3×3 hoopsters and also has players from traditional basketball, such as Takaki Ishida of the NBDL’s Tokyo Excellence and Masayuki Kabaya of the bj-league’s Yokohama B-Corsairs.

Some of the team owners are familiar names for Japanese fans. Japan national team player Yusuke Okada, who recently transferred from the Toyota Alvark to the Tsukuba Robots, is a co-owner for the Dime.exe team.

Arena Sports Promotion & Education (ASPE), the managing company of the NBL’s Chiba Jets, also runs a team called Chiba Jets.exe in it.