Normally when you hear about 3-on-3 basketball, you think of a backyard game or a small city tournament where athletes either play for fun or a small sum of money. But what you might not know is that there is a FIBA 3x3 Basketball World Championships.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) wants to make 3x3 basketball one of the most popular sports in the world. They already consider it the No. 1 urban team sport in the world, and their goal is for the sport to reach the Olympics.
The 2016 FIBA 3x3 Basketball World Championships runs Oct. 11-15 in Guangzhou, China. The USA men's team has not medaled in any previous world tournament, but this year, the team has been dominating.
"The Chicago Team that 3BALL Association put together are some local kids who have been a part of the Chicago Bulls in some sort of fashion—in summer league or training camp or practices," Bulls assistant coach and USA 3Ball coach Randy Brown told STACK. "I was familiar with the team and they asked me to volunteer and help coach; and not knowing how serious three-on-three basketball was or how much success they would have at the time, we started off with practice, and the next thing you know, these guys are winning tournaments and haven't lost a game since they started this summer."
The team went 22-0 this summer, which allowed them to qualify for the world championshps where they have dominated their first-round games. The team went 4-o in their pool, beating the Netherlands (15-11), Turkey (20-12), Japan (21-12) and China (21-15).
Besides teams consisting of only three players and playing in the half court, other things differentiate 3x3 from 5x5 basketball—e.g., the shot clock is only 12 seconds (vs. 24 seconds in the NBA), and to win the game, a team must either score 21 points or have the most points after 10 minutes.
Preparation for a 3x3 game can be different too.
"When we practiced, we conditioned full-court. Even though 3-on-3 basketball is only half-court, we conditioned 3-on-3 full court," says Brown. "We showed them video of teams not even making it to 21 points because the time ran out because of fatigue. One of the things we stressed to the guys [is] when they are in good shape, they will be able to [outlast] some of these other teams."
Also, in 3x3 basketball each player must have a well-rounded skillset. All of a team's players must be able to shoot, dribble and drive, because so many match-ups are 1-on-1.
In the videos below, you will see highlights from the first two days of the world championships, including day one, when Myke Henry of Team USA was player of the day. The USA's quarter-final matchup between Qatar is set for Oct. 15.
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