'India can win an Olympic gold in basketball’s 3 x 3 format'

“This 70% game-30% entertainment sport is relatively new. Not many countries are ready for/with the rules, structure or strategy. India has talent and the first mover advantage to make a serious challenge in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where it is a medal sport,” 3BL League Commi said.

Rohit Bakshi during the FIBA 3 x 3 World Tour.

“India can win an Olympic gold in basketball’s 3 x 3 format,” Rohit Bakshi, League Commissioner, International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3BL — 3 x 3 Pro Basketball League told Sportstar in a telephonic interview recently.

Raised in Japan, a member of Hamamatsu, the nation’s two-time winner and a 2016 FIBA 3 x 3 World Tour finalist, Bakshi backs his claim with reason. “This 70% game-30% entertainment sport is relatively new. Not many countries are ready for/with the rules, structure or strategy. India has talent and the first mover advantage to make a serious challenge in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where it is a medal sport,” he said.

“3 x 3 showcases individual abilities. We have height (ideally from 6’ 4” to 6’ 8”), agility, strength and skill. Talent in India needs better infrastructure and platforms to perform,” observed Bakshi.

Convinced there’s potential, Bakshi, his partner Yoshiya Kato and their firm YKBK Enterprise Pvt. Ltd obtained FIBA’s exclusive rights for the Indian sub-continent. On the 10-minute, high-speed version’s saleability, he said, “3 x 3 is an urban sport, for youth.  It’s hip-hop entertainment.”

To promote it, their schedule bypassed cricket (post IPL) and picked six spread out venues for 3BL from June 9 to August 26. Matches will be on weekends, in metro, tier I cities, viz; Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Aizawl.

Instead of stadia or regular sports venues, densely peopled city sections such as malls or high traffic areas will serve as stages. “The playing area required is 50 x 50 feet with movable court, surface and backboard, the arena completely installed in about two hours ! But for limited VIP seating, it will be free for public viewing.

“Anyone can spare 10 minutes. It must be seen as a career option rather than a hobby. Typically, it will be a 12-game league on Saturday and a seven-game knockout on Sunday. There will be a dozen teams with logos, six of them city-based, playing away sides such as Chandigarh. Open trials will spot new talent for the league comprising national, international and non-resident Indian (NRI) cagers.

Can the game become commercially viable in India ? “While replicating the Japanese model, we will localise content here. The game needs visibility, stars, rivalries between big teams, names to cheer for and recall. Commercial appeal grows when more people watch. The 3BL will be on FIBA’s Youtube channel that’s beamed to 144 countries, which will give players international exposure," Bakshi added.

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