Earlier this July, a FIBA 3×3 World Tour event was held at the Futaarayama Jinja shrine in Japan. For one of the participating teams, there was a notable Indian connection.
The Hamamatsu Team, which competed in the Utsunomiya Masters segment of the Tour, featured two Indians, superstar Amjyot Singh and Rohit Bakshi, apart from Indian origin ballers Inderbir Gill and Bikramjit Gill. With a 1-1 record after the league rounds, Hamamatsu managed to get to the Quarter Finals, before falling to Piran (a team from Slovenia), 21-16. The game that they were playing was the 3×3 format that has become increasingly popular among those who follow basketball. Initially seeded 10th, Hamamtsu did well to finally finish 6th. Not surprisingly team Novi Sad Al Wahda, UAE, comprising the top 4 ranked 3×3 players in World from Serbia, finished 1st to qualify for the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Final, which will be staged in Abu Dhabi on 27-28 October 2016.
What is the 3×3 FIBA World Tour?
The 3×3 FIBA World Tour is a bit like open source software. Any 4 individuals can create a team and represent a particular city, which would then participate in various rounds of Masters Tournaments. These events are not always organized by FIBA, but have their nod of assent. Instead, these 3×3 tournaments are varied and organized by a host of organizations, and they constitute a network of FIBA endorsed tournaments. The 2016 3×3 FIBA World Tour is the 5th edition of the tournament. The first time the competition was held was in 2012 and in that edition, the finals were held in Miami, Florida.
You can watch the top-5 plays of Amjyot Singh, representing Hamamtsu here:
You can watch the top-5 plays of the Utsunomiya leg of the tournament here:
The 3×3 Game
The basic rules of the 3×3 format of the game is not very different from an actual full-court basketball game. Instead, the format is a stripped down version, utilizing only 4 people per team. Only 3 players are allowed on the court, from each team. One member of the team is always on the bench, making it necessary for players to have certain all- round qualities and not be one trick ponies. Finally, the game is played in a half court set-up.
Scoring is carried out with 1’s and 2’s, which means that baskets inside what is the traditional 3-point line counts as 1 point and those outside are counted as 2 points. The game, unlike the full-court variation, is played for a period of ten minutes and the game is immediately awarded to the first team that reaches 21 points, regardless of the time left on the clock.
Here’s a visual guide to the rules of the game:
The 3×3 Japanese League
These four players (Amjyot, Rohit, Inderbir and Bikramjit) are also part of another 3×3 League, the Premier.exe League, which is the official 3×3 league of Japan, authorized by both the Japanese Basketball Association and FIBA. The team that they represent is called Agleymina.exe (静岡県浜松市). Amjyot was selected as the No. 1 pick on the 2nd of April and Bakshi tried out for the league and was eventually drafted. The draft picks each year include many professional players and national team players. The league was established in March 2014.
The 12 teams that comprise the league (Agleymina.exe is one of them), are divided into 2 conferences and play through 8 different rounds. Agleymina.exe currently has won 5 out of the 4 rounds that have been played. The finals (or Round 8) will be played in Tokyo. Agleymina.exe is on top of the South-East Conference (the other conference is the North-East Conference), with 18 points. Dime.exe is their closest competitor, with 13 points.
Inderbir Gill says that “Playing in the Premier.EXE league has been a great experience for me so far” and that while “the 3×3 format is a bit different with a 12 second shot clock, the game is much faster and more exciting.”
The 3×3 version of basketball might be fairly new in terms of media spotlight, but it closely resembles games that are played in playgrounds around the world. This, and the informal nature of the game that involves the crowd very closely could prove to be important in the years to come. With tournaments becoming smaller (the success of footsal and the T-20 format could also be evidence of this), the game of basketball too is increasingly becoming decentralized and with enough finding and media attention, individuals and organizations can change how the game is played and interacted with.