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Fast, action-packed 3x3 basketball season to start


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India eye Asian Games and Paris Olympics qualification after failing to make it to Commonwealth Games.

 

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The IPL of basketball is here. 

 

From shooting hoops on streets and backyards to making its debut at the Olympics, the rise of basketball’s shortest version – three-on-three – has been rapid. Along with the traditional 5x5 format in the Tokyo Olympics, the shorter version has become quite a hit worldwide. 

The format of one hoop, half-court, 10minutes or 21-points game is packed with enough action and speed to keep the spectators entertained. 

India would have played the Olympic qualification tournament in Bengaluru as hosts, but it was postponed in 2020 due of Covid-19 and later moved to Austria. The pandemic also halted the staging of India’s 3BL Pro Basketball League for two years but the third season is now ready to take off in Chandigarh from Saturday. The 3BL, recognised by world body Fiba and the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), has laid the foundation for the sport in the first two seasons. The third edition will now be looking to prepare the hoopsters for world tour events, and the Asian Games. The bigger goal will be to qualify for 2024 Paris Olympics. 

Dhruv Barman, one of the top players of the league, feels it is time to invest in the shorter version. “3x3 is our best opportunity to qualify at the Olympics. The 5-on-5 has players from the NBA and from leagues across the planet. It is very tough. But 3x3 is a growing sport and we have a professional league in India,” said Barman. 

“It’s still a new sport and before the world gets too ahead of us, we need to act quickly. We should identify players for 3x3 and mould them. If you look around the world, 3x3 teams are separate from 5x5. It is tough for a player to compete in both. The shorter version has four players with one on the bench.  Substitutions are so fast, and no matter how fit you are, you can’t play full 10 minutes at such high intensity. So, we need to bring all the expertise to build a team that can qualify for the Paris Olympics,” said Barman, who has played in world tour events. 

The sport will also make its debut at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year, but India have not qualified. The BFI has drawn up a plan, keeping the 2024 Olympics in mind. 

“Three-on-three is our priority. In Asian Games we will look to fight for a medal.

We already have a pro league in 3BL and we will soon have a national league as well. We have charted out a plan for the next two years to give more exposure and competitions to both men’s and women’s teams and prepare them for the next Olympics,” said BFI secretary general Chander Mukhi Sharma. 

IPL of basketball 

A 3x3 show can be held at malls, outdoor locations and removable courts. “We have got tremendous response since we started the league in India in 2018,” said 3BL CEO Prerna Bakshi. 

“We have conducted it in malls and people have stayed glued to the action. Basketball is itself a dynamic sport and 3x3 runs with music, action, entertainment which adds to the flavour. Even if people don't know the rules, they enjoy the 10-minute action,” said Bakshi. 

“We are happy to finally start season 3 after two years of gap because of the pandemic. The fans are growing but basketball is still not so popular in India. We are looking to attract more people to the sport this season. The long-term plan is that the league should help Indian players reach the Olympics,” she said. 

Barman too feels 3x3 has immense potential to become a popular sport. “It is like a 10-minute sprint. Even in the first season when we played in malls, the crowd was unbelievable. It is so intense to watch tall guys, hitting, bumping each other, all happening so fast. It’s exciting for everybody. This format is like the IPL of basketball.”

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