I don't purport to know a lot about 3x3 basketball other than what I've seen on the playground and in games of pick-up. Actually, I take that back. My dad and some of his work buddies played in a 3x3 tournament that I would rank a step above pick-up. A small step, maybe. Their team was called Tiny Elvis. They had the coolest team name, by far, even if they might not have had the greatest skills on the court.
But other than that, I'm pretty much a novice. And really, in the organized and official sense of the game, everyone is pretty much a novice. Debuting in its first world championships in Athens, Greece, 3x3 basketball might be something we all need to get used to - and fast - if FIBA has anything to say about it.
The game FIBA developed in 2007 began as a a variant of youth basketball, enjoying its first international competitive debut at the 2010 Youth Olympics. Since then, the growth of the game has included not only this inaugural world championships but also talk of Olympics inclusion.
"Like volleyball has beach volleyball, swimming has synchronized swimming, we want three-on-three to be part of [the 2016 Rio Olympics]," FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann said to USA Today earlier this month.
While I'm not sure I'd want to be compared to synchronized swimming, beach volleyball is an offshoot of the indoor game which certainly has some worldwide appeal. Baumann reasoned that 3x3 in the Olympics would lead to a grass-roots style of interest in the basketball and allow for even more countries and athletes to earn the right to participate in the Games.
And as far as the enjoyment of the game, Chiney Ogwumike's description to USA Basketball (as seen on twitter) might show why this 3x3 inclusion might be an appealing prospect to draw in a younger audience after all - "Oh my gosh! If you could combine a basketball sporting event, the Final Four and a club party, that's what you've got with 3x3 ~ @Chiney321"
But before we go so far as to set the slate for 2016, let's go over a few of the differences of this "traditional basketball" variation [view the rules of the game]:
- Played half court, in a 10 minute game
- Four players and one coach make up the roster
- Unlike traditional 2- and 3-point scoring, 3x3 baskets are scored with 1 and 2 points
- The first team to 21 wins; should the game require overtime, the first team to score 2 points in the extra period wins
World Championships tournament format:
- 24 teams, divided into 4 groups, playing round-robin on outdoor courts
- The top four (of 6) teams in each group after pool play progress to the Eighth Finals and proceeded in standard knockout bracket format
- There will also be skills challenges and entertainment as part of the festivities. Skylar Diggins will represent the women in the skills challenge.
- The U.S. team consists of three collegians and one post-college player in Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford), Bria Hartley (Connecticut) and Ann Strother (Connecticut; graduated in 2006 - replaced Alyssa Thomas on the roster Aug. 18)
Thursday - defeated Germany 22-9 and Angola 21-4 [USA Basketball's Day 1 Recap]
Friday - vs. Bulgaria (6 p.m.) and Argentina (8:30 p.m.); The game against Argentina will take place on Court 1, which will have livestreaming available. Game time is 1:30 p.m. ET
Saturday - vs. Netherlands (7:40 p.m.); Eight Finals and Quarterfinals will be Saturday night
Sunday - Semifinals and Finals