Basketball has Olympic dreams for 3x3 version
The world governing body for basketball FIBA is targeting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for the 3x3 basketball.
"We have good cards to play and can give the International Olympic Committee (IOC) something to help rejuvenate their programme, something urban, something very youth-orientated and something that marries technology with entertainment," said FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann watching the competition at the ongoing Youth Olympics here Sunday, reports Xinhua.
FIBA made a serious push to include 3x3 for the 2016 Rio Games but fell short. It had hoped to create a popular new Olympic event, much like volleyball with the introduction of beach volleyball and cycling with BMX.
"We wanted Rio and were very close but Rio has more pressing issues so it is understandable that the IOC did not change the programme. We hope that with changes in the agenda for 2020, we will have the right flexibility and the IOC will make its choice," Baumann said.
Baumann said this while watching the 3x3 competition here, adding that much has changed since the sport took its place at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics. He noted the Nanjing Games are much more competitive.
"You see Venezuela beating Russia, China beating France. That does not happen very often in 5-on-5 and for us that is good news because it means we are on the right track," he said.
Former Spain international Jorge Garbajosa has played the game at all levels, including the NBA, World Championships 5-on-5 and the World 3x3 Championships. He said that while there are similarities, the games are very different.
"You have a ball and you have a basket but the way to play is very different. You do not have time to rest. You have to make quick decisions which makes the game more exciting and there is a small party around the game which is great for players and fans," said Jarbajosa.
FIBA sees 3x3 basketball, which is a popular recreational sport around the world, as a vehicle for non-traditional powerhouse hoopster countries to have a chance at Olympic glory.
New Zealand coach Anthony Corban agrees and would like to see 3x3 in Tokyo restricted to countries not competing in 5-on-5 competition, should the sport be included in the programme.
"It is a great sport for development nations. New Zealand is a developing basketball nation. Australia is the big dog in Oceania. For a lot of those countries that can't go to the Olympics, where it is 5-on-5, this is a great way to develop the game. Tunisia, I had to go to Google to find out where the country is. Andorra as well. It is good to see those countries here."
Brazil coach Fernando Coloneze, though, disagrees with the idea of limiting entries.
"Volleyball has regular volleyball and beach volleyball. I do not see why you should restrict the countries," he said.
The last word went to United States coach Travis Johnson.
"It has to be the next thing. We are pushing for it to be the next thing. It is awesome. Look how beach volleyball has taken off. The setting on the sand with the music, that is the same thing that FIBA is trying to do here," he said.
(Posted on 24-08-2014)