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Five takeaways from the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2018
Pace and Space
For sure, pace was the name of the game in 3x3. There's hardly any lull in the action, even after a made basket. As a player, there's just little to no time to catch a breather. The flow of the game was dizzyingly relentless - in a good way.
Of course, space was a premium as well, or, more specifically, managing so much open space given how only 6 players are on the floor at any one time. This leads to the next takeaway...
Because of fewer players on the floor, 3x3 forces each defender to make sure he is able to stop his man one-on-one. Very rarely were double-teams seen at the 3x3 World Cup, and for good reason. If a defender double-teamed an opposing player, he would leave his last teammate out to dry trying to guard so much space against twice as many foes. It opens up a new layer of strategy, and it makes the action even more frantic.
Keep on shooting
Another defining characteristic of 3x3 is how "making a shot from beyond the arc" is worth twice as much as making a lay-up, slam dunk or mid-range jumper. This gives perimeter shooting higher premium, and it makes having at least one dead-shot shooter on your team a top priority. In Manila, this was even more stark as there was hardly any wind factor in the indoor Philippine Arena, where the tournament was held.
Loss of composure, too many fouls given, and lack of experience in the FIBA 3x3 stage made it difficult for Gilas Pilipinas https://t.co/Qov9maBBYZ— Multisport.ph (@MultiSportPH) June 11, 2018
Accumulating too many fouls is nearly equated to being the death-knell for any team. Once a squad exceeds the team foul limit of 6 fouls, their opponents will be given 2 free throws each for the 7th, 8th, and 9th fouls. Now, if a team continues to foul even after that, then their opponents will be gifted with 2 free throws plus ball possession. Those are certainly hefty consequences for fouling too much - it allows your foes to score twice as much as a regular basket with time standing still. And once ball possession is also awarded to the other team, it has the potential to halt all your momentum. Fouls are truly critical in 3x3.
3x3 is more than a niche
Perhaps the most enlightening thing I realized in covering the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2018 was how it's more than a basketball niche. It has evolved into its own distinct style of play much akin to, say, beach volleyball or futsal. It's no surprise, then, that the consistently successful 3x3 teams are those who don't simple cherry-pick their respective national teams for 3x3 pinch-hitters. For teams to succeed at 3x3, they need players who are willing to go all-in on 3x3 and see it as its own marquee event, just like four-time champions Serbia.
After being immersed in the 3x3 world for nearly an entire week, I've learned that that this style of basketball clearly has the potential to grow even bigger, as proven by its inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. I also felt that 3x3 levels the playing field in a manner of speaking, and, especially for teams in the Asian region like 3x3 powerhouse Mongolia, this can be a rich source of success in the future.
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