Rohit Bakshi is the driving force behind the 3×3 Pro Basketball League (3BL) that will take place in Gurugram later this month. Born in India and brought up in Japan, Mr Bakshi is an entrepreneur who has a keen eye for opportunity, and he sees a huge one in the Indian basketball circuit. We caught up with Mr Bakshi to talk about 3×3 basketball and the upcoming league.
Q: Your desire to establish an elite competition in India is well known. How do you see your vision taking shape?
RB: 3×3 basketball recently achieved the status of an Olympic sport, and FIBA has granted my company [YKBK Enterprise Pvt Ltd] the exclusive rights to conduct a Pro 3×3 basketball league in the Indian subcontinent. The vision is to have an international league that will include teams from the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and of course, India. This will provide players from the subcontinent with a platform on which they can compete and grow.
Q: What will the league look like?
RB: The 3BL taking place in Gurugram this month is a showcase event, an appetizer for the main league that will start early next year. The league will comprise twelve teams split into different pools. It will be played in six separate rounds over a staggered time period. Each round will be played over a weekend in a different city: 4 major cities and two tier 2 cities.
Q: Which teams are participating at the showcase event this month?
RB: Twelve teams have been invited. Amongst the international teams, there are Hamamatsu, Yokohoma, and Alborada. From the subcontinent, there are the teams from Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. And from India, there are 6 teams: ONGC, IOB, Vijaya Bank, Ludhiana Basketball Academy, and Air Force. The last slot is still open, and will be filled based on an open trial we are conducting at Siri Fort in New Delhi on Sunday, 10th September. Shout out to all the talented ballers who want an opportunity to thrash it out with the best 3×3 ballers in Asia!
Q: There is huge fanfare surrounding the NBA in India. Do you have anything to say to those fans about 3×3 basketball?
RB: 3×3 basketball is the most popular form of the game, played by everyone on the streets, in every nook and corner of the world. It is quick and fast paced, and the players are very athletic. Fans can look forward to a lot of dunks, alley-oops, and three-pointers. One thing is certain: blink, and you’ll miss it!
Q: How is 3×3 basketball different from 5v5 basketball?
RB: In many ways, 3×3 basketball is a completely different sport from 5v5. Firstly, 3×3 basketball is played with a smaller ball (size 6), whereas 5v5 is played with a size 7 ball. Secondly, 3×3 basketball is a great leveller when it comes to size. A 7 footer has a huge advantage in 5v5 basketball (as long as he is not too slow), whereas he would struggle to keep up with the pace of the game in 3×3 basketball. The ideal height in 3×3 basketball is 6ft4” to 6ft8”, because everyone needs to be able to guard each and every player on the opposition team.
Q: You are a basketball player yourself, and you have played in the Japanese 3×3 league. What is it about the sport that appeals to you?
RB: I love the fact that 3×3 basketball gives every individual the opportunity to showcase his or her skills. It is also a more inclusive sport, as it does not demand the same level of athleticism as 5v5 basketball. The more athletic you are the better, but it’s not a prerequisite. 3×3 basketball gives me the hope that India can one day win the world championship and be the no. 1 team in basketball. To an extent, we proved it last year, when we reached the finals of the FIBA World Tour.
The 3×3 Pro Basketball League (3BL) is India’s first and only FIBA authorized 3×3 Pro League. The league is all set to tip off in 2018 and aims to create a grassroots structure for 3×3 across India. As per the organizers mission statement, they aim to develop the league as a franchise-based professional sport, starting with 12 teams and going up to a participation of 36 teams within a seven-year period. Find out more on http://3x3bl.com/.