Basketball's new 3x3 format is fast, snazzy and the rip-roaring version of the game. The game will be played in this avatar at the 2020 Olympic Games. Its Olympic entry has raised the profile of the 3x3 format and has also given rise to an all new marketing opportunity in India through such a league.
The six-city multi 3x3 Pro Basketball League will begin from Delhi on June 9 and 10. It will be played in - Aizwal, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Mumbai, besides the capital.
The Commissioner of the 3x3 Pro Basketball League, Rohit Bakshi says, "The format has 70 percent game and 30 percent entertainment. We are going on the streets, in a high traffic area and increasing the popularity of the sport."
There will be 12 teams that'll play six rounds of championship matches during the next six weeks. There will be 19 matches per weekend and players will be paid between Rs 10,000 to Rs 3 lakhs. As many as 72 players have been added to the draft, of which 48 will play. The top 2 teams will enter the World Tour.
"We have sold two teams this year," says Bakshi. "The Delhi franchise has been bought by Pooja Bhatt and she'll be the face of the team. The rest of the teams are managed by the league. In the team we have an international, an elite and a developmental player."
International basketball sensation Inderbir Singh will be a part of this league as well. "We have already made a break in 3x3 basketball. In 2016, Indian origin players, Bikramjit, Amjyot and I came 2nd in the FIBA World Tour finals; that was a breakthrough for all the Indian players to compete at such a high level.
"This format is catered towards Indian players because we are quick, we can shoot the ball and this will help us get to the level in 5x5 that we haven't yet got to," Inderbir adds.
It seems ironic that the Indian players who will have part in the 3x3 basketball league cannot ply their trade with the Indian basketball team or play the 5x5 format. In a bizarre turn of events, on April 25, the day Basketball Federation of India (BFI) gave a green signal to the league, they also debarred players like India's top cager Palpreet Singh from taking part in any national or international competitions in the 5x5 format.
"We got a letter which said whoever plays the 3x3 basketball format, can't participate in the 5x5 format," Palpreet told NDTV. "We had to pick one. I picked 3x3."
After giving permission to a private body to organise a league, the BFI is now planning a league of its own, which is likely to confuse the players and the people in the ecosystem. Also the friction between the organisers of the league and the BFI might come in the way of the game's growth in the country.