FIBA director hopes 3x3 basketball can make Tokyo 2020

Matt Jones - Editor 11:54 26/10/2016
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Golf, kitesurfing and rugby sevens might have very little in common with 3×3 basketball, but Alex Sanchez is hoping the shortened version of the game can follow in the trio’s footsteps and make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

Sanchez, the International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) 3×3 director, has been with the game since its humble beginnings as a white paper proposition in 2010.

The FIBA 3×3 World Tour was born in 2012 and now, just four short years later, Sanchez is cautiously optimistic of the sport appearing on the grandest stage of all in four years’ time.

“We will do everything possible to make this happen,” said Sanchez yesterday at the press conference ahead of the World Tour’s seasonending final in Abu Dhabi.

“We hope this event (in Abu Dhabi) helps us to become an Olympic sport. We are cautiously optimistic. It has been a success at the Youth Olympics. We are in most of the multi-sport games, European, Islamic and Asian Games, it’s a long list, but it’s never enough. I want us to drive for more.

“The additions of new sports to the Olympics earlier this year makes our case very strong. It’s a dream. It will still be a dream if the decision is no, or maybe that will be a nightmare, but we are optimistic.”

FIBA will present its case to the International Olympic Committee in February next year, with a decision expected by July.

“It is already a part of the Asian Games in 2018 and events like this help us to grow the sport and make it better,” added Sanchez.

A total of 12 teams will take to the Zayed Sports City court Thursday and Friday to decide who will take the 2016 Abu Dhabi title, with local side Novi Sad Al Wahda the twotime defending champions.

Sanchez admits he has been amazed by the development and growth in popularity of 3×3 basketball in the last six years, and believes Abu Dhabi has had a big part to play.

“Last year the quarter-finals were held here at Nation Towers and I think it was the best quarterfinals we’ve ever had,” said Sanchez. “I’m convinced with help from the Abu Dhabi Sports Council it will become even better this year. It’s been a long season but we have here the best teams on the World Tour and we expect them all to put on the most competitive tournament of 3×3 action to date.

“Abu Dhabi is the flagship tournament of the 3×3 calendar. The final is the pinnacle of the season. It’s going to be the most competitive event ever. We started with a white paper in 2010 then the World Tour started in 2012. We thought that was the key ingredient to make the sport self-sustaining.

“We are now in the fifth year. The prize money here has been growing, it will double next year which helps to attract better players and maybe help the sport go professional. We are heading in the right direction.”

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