Ahead of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3×3 World Cup, which starts on 8th June, Athlete365 takes a closer look at the explosive new sport set to make its Olympic Games bow at Tokyo 2020.

Since its Olympic debut at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Singapore 2010, 3×3 basketball has gone from strength to strength, and its inclusion on the programme for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 makes it the first-ever new YOG discipline to be incorporated in the Summer Olympic Games equivalent.

Hard and fast
Played on a half court and with only one hoop, each match lasts a maximum of just 10 minutes – and there’s no half time, no quarters and no time-outs. Combine this with a 12-second shot clock, non-stop music and on-court DJs and dancers, and you’ve got one of the fastest and most intense sports around.

“Everybody has fun. The players, the audience, they have a really good time,” explains the 3×3 world no. 3, Serbia’s Dusan Bulut. “It’s global. It’s urban. It’s a show.

“It’s so fast. You need to think quickly. If you want to be at a high level you have to develop all types of skill.”

From the street to the stadium
Forms of 3×3 basketball have been played on street corners and in urban settings for almost as long as its parent sport has existed, but in the past decade the discipline has taken off internationally and an official FIBA World Tour has been run since 2012.

While not wholly professional, the world’s top players are now full-time 3×3 ballers, and the sport continues to grow at a pace. Its appearance at Tokyo 2020 is a landmark moment – something that Bulut says is a dream come true: “We have devoted our lives to this, on court and off the court.

“When I started 3×3 I saw so clearly in my mind that one day it would in the Olympic Games, and now we will be part of it.”

World-beaters
There’s plenty of basketball to be played before then, however, and next month the fifth edition of the FIBA 3×3 World Cup will be staged in the Philippines. Twenty teams, split into four pools of five, will compete for the title in both the men’s and women’s competitions.

Bulut’s Serbia are the defending men’s champions, and go into the tournament as favourites. However, they will face tough competition early on, having been placed in the same pool as last year’s beaten finalists, the Netherlands.

Russia’s women’s team also face a testing start, with two-time winners the USA drawn together with the reigning champions.