After Pan Am Games slam dunk, 3x3
basketball looks towards Olympics
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[July 30, 2019]
By Steve Keating
LIMA (Reuters) - The front page of
FIBA's website offers a little teaser about its latest project:
"From the streets to the Olympics" says basketball's world governing
body in a pitch for the 3x3 version of the game.
While the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games is where the sport will have its
big reveal, there are a few stops along the way to Japan, including
this week in Lima where 3x3 went "From the streets to the Pan Am
If the excited holiday crowd packed into the quaint Coliseo Eduardo
Dibos on Monday was any indication, the three-a-side version of
hoops, played on a half-court, could be a Tokyo Olympic hit.
Despite having no basketball pedigree and little exposure to the
sport beyond NBA highlight packages, Peruvians seemed genuinely
fascinated by the 3x3 version where the winner is the first team to
21 points, or ahead after the 10-minute regulation period.
The U.S. men did not need the full 10 minutes to get the job done,
Jonathan Octeus draining two free throws to seal a 21-19 win over
Puerto Rico while the women completed an unbeaten run to the gold by
stopping Argentina 21-17.
"We are definitely the pioneers, first team to win the 3x3 gold
medal; I'm glad it was the USA," Octeus told Reuters. "This game is
going to grow.
"In the Americas it is not as big but the Europeans, from my
understanding, they have been playing this game for 10, 15, 20 years
so it is crazy to see their growth and see what might happen over
the next 10 years with the 3x3 game in the Americas."
The gold-medal contests looked much like something you might see in
any park, schoolyard or playground in the United States, or Paris or
Shanghai for that matter.
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While the 3x3 version is played now in every corner of the globe,
the game as a competitive entity remains largely unknown.
FIBA has methodically introduced the sport, starting with the 2010
Youth Olympics in Singapore where 3x3 had its first international
That was followed by its Asian Games debut in 2018 and another first
at the Pan Am Games.
FIBA also operates a 3x3 World Tour that this season consists of 11
events culminating with the final in November in Utsunomiya, Japan.
Many sports have recently trended towards condensed versions of
their games in a bid to widen their appeal
Rugby sevens, Twenty20 cricket and mixed curling are among the
sports that have benefited from giving fans fast, bite-size versions
of their games.
Three-on-three does that and more with its fast-paced action played
out to a blaring hip-hop sound track.
"Not a lot of people know about three-on-three; I just learned about
it two years but I think it's growing," said Christyn Williams, who
contributed five points to the U.S. win. "Winning gold will make a
"It is a new sport for the U.S. so us playing in this benefited it.
"Since I started playing it has grown a lot so I think us playing in
it and showing it to the U.S. it will grow even more."
(Editing by Clare Fallon)
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