Taking it to the streets: 3X3 at the Paris Summer games

The highlight of the 2024 sport summer for most of us will be the Olympic games held in Paris.  Naturally, we all have our favorite sports and our viewing plans are probably already more or less made.   Naturally if you have tickets and accommodations, we are all insanely jealous although those of us with a cable TV package here in the Netherlands have no less than four national broadcasters to choose from so we can binge on the Summer Games to our heart’s content!  And while climbing walls or breakdancing may not be your cup of tea, spare a moment while we plead the case for a new sport that looks and feels like a venerable old Olympic favorite: 3×3 basketball.

Once considered nothing more than a backyard pastime, 3×3 basketball has evolved into a professional sport with official rules sanctioned by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). On a more grassroots level, tournaments like Red Bull Half Court (3×3) have emerged as a way for the global streetball community to push boundaries, ensuring that the sport evolves, captivates, and unites enthusiasts worldwide.

The History of 3×3 Basketball:  Organized 3×3 basketball developed from streetball played across America. Originating in the 1980s, it was popular in urban areas where there was often only one basket and a half-court available. There was no need for a referee, and teams were often formed on the spot.

As the game gained popularity, the world governing body of basketball, FIBA, decided to trial organized 3×3 basketball at the 2007 Asian Indoor Games in Macau, China. The format – featuring the use of only one basket and two teams of three players on a half-court – was immediately well-received. This success led FIBA to introduce the sport at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

Since 2012, FIBA has organized 3×3 World Championships and a 3×3 World Tour. In 2017, US rapper Ice Cube founded the 3×3 professional league, Big3, in America. That same year, the International Olympic Committee announced that 3×3 basketball would make its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games, where USA claimed gold in the women’s event and Latvia triumphed in the men’s tournament.

The Game Format: 3×3 basketball is a variant of the classic sport, played by two teams of three players each on a half-court with one basket. The points-scoring method differs from traditional basketball. In 3×3, a basket scored from inside the shooting circle counts as one point (instead of two), while a basket from beyond the shooting circle counts as two points (rather than three).

Each 3×3 game lasts for 10 minutes or until a team scores 21 points, whichever occurs sooner. The shot clock is 12 seconds, half as long as in traditional basketball. The game does not stop when a basket is scored; possession changes immediately, making 3×3 basketball a fast-paced, intense game often referred to as ‘a 10-minute sprint’.

Key Rules and Terms 

Start of the Game: Begins with a coin toss. The winner decides whether to start with the ball or to take possession in potential overtime.

Game Time and Overtime: Lasts 10 minutes or until one team scores 21 points. In overtime, the first team to score two points wins.

Check Ball: After interruptions, the ball is handed to the offensive player by the defensive player at the middle of the court beyond the throwing circle.

Continuation After a Successful Basket: The ball changes possession immediately without a throw-in or check.

Continuation After Offensive Rebound: The attacking team can shoot immediately without bringing the ball behind the throwing circle again.

Continuation After Defensive Rebound, Block, or Steal: The defending team must bring the ball behind the throwing circle before attacking.

Jump Ball Situation: The defensive team receives the ball.

Fouls and Free Throws: A foul during a shot inside the circle results in one free throw; outside the circle, two free throws. More than six team fouls result in two free throws per foul. From the 10th foul onwards, two free throws plus possession.

Changing Players: Substitutions can be made any time the game is interrupted.

Important 3×3 Events: 

FIBA 3×3 World Cup

FIBA 3×3 World Tour:  Runs from May to December with stops around the world.

FIBA 3×3 Women’s Series:  Similar to the World Tour, from May to September.

Red Bull Half Court: Since 2021, a global streetball tournament with stops in over 21 countries.

3×3 Basketball in the Netherlands:  The Netherlands has embraced 3×3 basketball with significant enthusiasm. The Velodrome in Amsterdam has been modified to accommodate the training of Dutch 3×3 teams, highlighting the country’s commitment to the sport. High-profile tournaments have been held in the Netherlands, including the 2019 World Cup at the Museumplein in Amsterdam.

 For the upcoming Paris 2024 Summer Games, the Dutch men’s team has qualified and consists of Worthy de Jong, Arvin Slagter, Dimeo van der Horst, and Jan Driessen, coached by Aron Royé. This achievement underscores the growth and talent in Dutch 3×3 basketball. Unfortunately, the women’s team, which includes Noortje Driessen, Zoë Slagter, Loyce Bettonvil, and Janis Boonstra, did not qualify for the 2024 Summer Games.

3×3 at the Paris Games: As 3×3 basketball gears up for its second appearance at the Olympic Games in Paris 2024, excitement is building among fans and players alike. This high-octane, fast-paced sport promises thrilling matches and unforgettable moments. Whether you are a seasoned basketball fan or new to the sport, the 3×3 tournament at the Paris Summer Games is an event you won’t want to miss. Join the fun in celebrating this dynamic and engaging addition to the Olympic program, where the world’s best will compete for gold in a game that truly embodies the spirit of urban street basketball.

Written by John Mahnen