The Belgian Lions 3×3 qualified for the Olympics in Debrecen on Sunday. But what exactly is 3×3? And who are all the participants? We list the most important things for you.
What is 3×3 basketball?
3×3 basketball is a faster version of the 5×5 basketball that is played on a half court and is usually played outdoors. Each team consists of 3 players and 1 reserve player. You can change constantly.
The match lasts 10 minutes or ends when one team scores 21 points. Each score counts for one point, for a score outside the two-point line (= three-point line at 5 x 5) you get two points.
There is a 12-second shot-up clock for each attack. You must register during that time. This ensures that the game is played very quickly.
After any hit or steal, the ball must be “cleared” outside the two-point line. Fouls are counted for each team. From 7 mistakes of the team you get 2 free throws. Of the tenth foul, there are two free throws and possession of the ball.
What type of player do you need?
While in 5×5 basketball you often have different types on the team, from small to large, in 3×3 you usually see players who are quite similar physically and can hold up both in defense and offense.
All-round players often perform better on a 3×3 than a player who excels on one aspect of basketball. The more variety, the better. Physically, a little more is also allowed, so those who can get hit also have an advantage.
Since when is an Olympic sport?
3×3 basketball has exploded off the streets and has grown in popularity in the past two decades. In 2010, the sport was included in the program at the Summer Youth Olympic Games, and the first World Cup was held two years later.
Thanks to the introduction of 3×3 at the European Games in 2015, the sport has become known to a wider audience. Two years later, in 2017, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to include the 3×3 Tokyo Olympics in the Olympic program.
This decision is in line with the IOC’s view of encouraging more “urban sports” at the Olympic Games. For example, skateboarding will also make its Olympic debut this summer.
In 2015, Anne Waters (left) competed with the Belgian 3×3 team at the European Games in Baku.
Who are the 3×3 Belgian Lions?
The Belgian Lions Big Core 3×3 consists of active players in the Belgian 1st or 2nd division. Captain Nick Seles made a short stint in first division Mechelen this year and has pasts in first division at Limburg United and Brussels, among others.
In the previous qualifying tournaments in Graz and Debrecen, Raphael Bogarts (Gimbo), Terry Marin (Wilbrook) and Thibaut Verfort (Millessel) were part of the team. Jonas Fuertes (Mechelen) and Brian De Valk (Oxaco) were on the reserve list.
Together they also play 3×3 international tournaments with “Team Antwerp”, which means they have a lot of mechanics as a team. So installing a new player for games, eg someone from 5×5 black Belgian, is not straightforward. Thus, the best Belgian basketball player is not necessarily the best Belgian 3×3 player.
What can we expect from them in Tokyo?
Eight nations participate in the Olympic basketball tournament: Japan as the host nation, China, Russia and Serbia based on the world rankings, Poland, the Netherlands and Latvia thanks to the Olympic qualifying tournament, and finally Belgium which won the last ticket this weekend.
The 3×3 Belgian Lions did this in a tournament that was open only to “smaller” basketball nations that did not have a basketball team in the previous two Olympics.
In Tokyo, Belgium ranks 37th in the world on paper, and the other countries – except for Serbia number 15 – are all in the world’s top 10. However, they have already beaten some of these teams in the past. The 3×3 Lions hope to survive in the group stage.
This is what 3×3 basketball looks like at the Olympics: