Basketball: Singapore to host Fiba 3x3 Asia Cup in July
Twelve years after 3x3 basketball moved into the mainstream in Singapore, the Republic will host the fifth edition of the Fiba 3x3 Asia Cup from July 6 to 10.
"We're excited to bring back 3x3 to Singapore, where it all began," said Fiba secretary general Andreas Zagklis on its website.
The first 3x3 game played according to Fiba rules took place at the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games, which Singapore hosted.
The sport is a variation of basketball, and is played three-a-side, with one backboard within a half-court, over a single 10-minute period.
The first team to score 21 points, or the team with more points at the end of the 10 minutes, wins. If the teams are tied at the end of regulation, they go into overtime, and the first team to score two points wins.
After being promoted by Fiba through its 3x3 World Tour, World Cup and continental Cups, the event made its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 last year.
Zagklis said: "We look forward to returning, 12 years later as an established Olympic discipline. We strongly believe that 3x3 will feel at home in Singapore.
"Fiba decided in 2017 to operate a representative office in this young, dynamic, urban and international city, and we are glad to see this 3x3 event becoming part of our excellent partnership with the local sports authorities."
Every eligible national federation from the Asia and Oceania zone is allowed to register a men's and/or a women's national team at the Fiba 3x3 Asia Cup, and the winners will qualify for the Fiba 3x3 World Cup next year.
The organisers are working with the relevant authorities to stage the event safely in accordance with Singapore's prevailing safe management measures, and while the venue will be announced later, it is understood that the Marina Bay Sands promenade is an option.
Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin told Fiba: "Having followed its growth since the 3x3 format debuted in Singapore, we are certain that the '10-minute sprint' will be an exciting and unique experience for spectators and Asian teams competing at the event.
"Gathering some of the region's top teams here in Singapore, the local basketball fraternity will have valuable opportunities for learning and to up the game here."
The upcoming Fiba 3x3 Asia Cup will be the first time the tournament has been held since the pandemic emerged, with the last edition held in Changsha, China in 2019, when Australia swept both the men's and women's events.
Participation has grown steadily, from 26 teams from 16 countries playing in the first edition in Qatar in 2013, to 40 teams from 23 countries competing in the last edition in China.
Basketball Association of Singapore (BAS) president Koh Koon Teck welcomed the hosting of the continental event as it is in line with the BAS' long-term plans of qualifying for 3x3 basketball at the 2032 Olympics.
He said The Straits Times: "We hope to get Singaporeans from all walks of life to be excited and follow this relatively new discipline which BAS is focusing on, and support the local players as we work towards achieving our goals.
"Through the hosting of the Fiba 3x3 Asia Cup, we also want to provide opportunities for coaches, umpires, tournament organisers and sports administrators to learn and improve.
Currently, Singapore are ranked 143rd out of 202 federations in the 3x3 men's category, 120th out of 194 in the men's Under-23 class and 67th out of 181 among the men's U-18s. They are unranked in all the women's categories.
Koh said the BAS will work with different agencies such as Sport Singapore, Singapore Sports Hub, Ministry of Education and People's Association to roll out more 3x3 tournaments "using different venues and platforms" to popularise the sport among youth, which would allow it to build a larger pool of talent.
There are also plans to send the national teams to compete in more tournaments. For example, the men's and women's teams are currently playing friendlies in Malaysia to prepare for the Fiba 3x3 Asia Cup, as well as to beef up their case to participate in the May 12-23 SEA Games.
National player Delvin Goh is itching for some competitive action as the Asean Basketball League has been suspended since the pandemic.
The Singapore Slingers forward said: "Our playing careers are not that long, and we have wasted too much time without being able to compete, so we are craving for competitions like these and having the fans with us and enjoying an intense game together.
"People should find 3x3 familiar as most of us started playing this way on the streets and the neighbourhood courts. It is a fast-paced and action-packed game, which will definitely attract fans and eventually bring up the level of basketball in Singapore as we learn from Asia's best."