FIBA official thinks Pinoys can win 3x3 Olympic gold
by rick olivares
Ignacio Soriano, FIBA’s 3x3 Event Manager was in Manila (February 25-26) to inspect the different venues that will be used in the upcoming SBP 3x3 Pambansang Tatluhan competition that tips-off this coming March.
FIBA has tasked the Philippines to be at the forefront of three-on-three basketball as the basketball derivative has been played across the decades throughout the archipelago.
“We in FIBA are amazed with what we witness here,” said Soriano during a break in his inspection duties. Accompanied by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) Executive Director Renauld “Sonny” Barrios and 3x3 Pambansang Tatluhan Tournament Director Mark Solano, Soriano inspected the Quezon Memorial Circle and the SM Mall of Asia Arena two of many sites for the matches. The six-foot tall Barcelona-born and bred Soriano is in his fifth visit to the Philippines since 2014.
“The fans are crazy about the game whether full court five-on-five basketball or 3x3,” observed the Spaniard. “I was in attendance at the PBA Finals last night and the atmosphere was great. And it is gratifying to know that even 3x3 ball gets the same type of response and support so I know that when the tournament gets going in March, it will be fantastic.”
Soriano divulged that the 3x3 tourneys require more than a year’s preparation and that paying attention to the details will only help the sport grow.
“We in FIBA have submitted to the International Olympic Committee the proposal and application for 3x3 basketball to be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” divulged Soriano. “In theory it is supported by many people. We have received a lot of support from member federations around the world, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas included. We are highly optimistic it will happen.”
“Should 3x3 basketball become an Olympic sport, the Philippines has a good chance of winning a medal. As you know the game is not about height but skills. And when you have a super-talented player like Terrence Romeo and many others, this can happen. I believe that in 3x3 basketball, the Philippines can thrive.”
“We hoped that 3x3 basketball would be accepted in time for the last Rio Olympics but it didn’t happen. Rest assured, we are working hard to make this happen for the next Summer Games.”
“In the meantime, the SBP 3x3 tournament is going to be exciting. FIBA is working with the Philippines on this because we know the passion for the game here in massive.”
The popularity of 3x3 basketball, a derivative of the traditional full court 5x5 ball, has rapidly become a popular sport ever since FIBA introduced it during the World Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010.
Three-on-three ball was one of the main attractions of the 2015 European Games held in Baku, Azerbaijan, and it is being pushed as one of the sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Where did this version of basketball begin?
It was an inner city version of full court basketball that was first played and took New York City and Washington by storm in the early 1900s.
Unlike the full court version, a 3x3 version was derived first due to playing space and the availability of baskets meaning teams shot at only one basket.
Here in the Philippines, the game has been popular ever since the Americans introduced the sport at the turn of the 20th century. “Tatluhan” or “three-on-three” as it is called in the vernacular, is played by almost every person in every demographic and on every surface conceivable and in every possible condition whether shoed or barefoot.
The popularity of the game domestically is the reason why FIBA has requested the Philippines to take the lead in the propagation of the sport.
American Scott MacNeal (aka Gus Macker), one of those acknowledged founders of organized 3x3 competition, established his first 3x3 tournaments in 1974, in his parent’s driveway in Lowell, Michigan. In 1987, MacNeal refined and expanded the concept into a more formal tournament that involves over 2.2 million players from seven years to 50-plus age groups of men and women.
In 1989, Hoop It Up, the NBA included as part of its All-Star Game festivities a tourney for non-professional players to one including pros and celebrities. Hoop It Up started from an initial less than 2,000 players in 1986 to over 135,000 participants in 2014 with even teams from Italy, Japan, and Spain participating.
Now the game has become popular the world over. A total of 24 teams will participate in the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Shenzen, China this November 14-16 while a bigger pool of 36 squads will convene in Nantes, Frances for the FIBA 3x3 World Cup this June 17-21.
The Philippines will be one of the 20 men’s teams participating in the tournament.