|Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta (left) participates in the 3x3 EuroTour last year in Bucharest, along with retired Romanian footballer Miodrag Belodedici|
FIBA Europe announced on Tuesday that the inaugural 3x3 European Championships will be hosted by Bucharest, the city dubbed by Sports Illustrated as "the unlikely mecca of 3x3."
The decision was arrived upon by the FIBA Europe Executive Committee during a meeting in Munich on 25 February.
Set to take place in University Square in downtown Bucharest from 5-7 September, the best 16 European Men's and Women's teams will compete in the event.
Romania has already developed a long and credible history in the sport of 3x3 basketball, despite the relatively new formation of the discipline. Already for 10 years, Romanian organization, Sport Arena, who work in recognition of the Romanian Basketball Federation, have been organizing popular five-event series, attracting in excess of 200 teams to every event.
The national teams, which have been selected by their respective national federations, can qualify to play for the Championships via one of three qualifying tournaments, with locations and dates to be announced in the near future. Teams will be assigned to one of the three qualifying tournaments based on their FIBA 3x3 Federation ranking.
32 men's teams and 27 women's teams have applied to play in the qualifying tournaments, with applications now closed (teams listed at bottom).
The three qualifying tournaments will also double up as three of the 10 stops on the 3x3 EuroTour, with Bucharest acting as the final stop on the tour. The remaining 3x3 EuroTour stops are Qualifiers or Feeders to the World Tour.
The top 15 teams from each category following the European Championships will qualify for the 1st European Games which take place in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2015 (Azerbaijan earn a wildcard entry to both the men's and women's events).
"Bucharest has established itself, not only in Europe but the world as the unofficial capital of 3x3 basketball," stated FIBA Europe Acting President Cyriel Coomans, going on to announce that, "The awarding of the European Championships to Bucharest is a continuation of co-operation and inaugurations between FIBA Europe and the city of Bucharest, with the Romanian capital last year successfully playing host to the first ever 3x3 EuroTour event."
"Bucharest has developed a world-wide reputation as the nirvana of 3x3 basketball. We already have experience at hosting numerous 3x3 events and we now want to use this opportunity to promote not only 3x3 basketball, but Bucharest and Romania to the world," claimed Romanian Basketball Federation President Horia Paun upon learning of the news.
FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak emphasized the role that FIBA Europe has played in the rapid development of 3x3 basketball from an unstructured playground pastime into a competitive national-team competition. "When FIBA Europe began to invest serious time and resources into the sport of 3x3 basketball three years ago, it was a popular urban activity lacking a bigger picture. Since 2011, beginning with two events, the 3x3 EuroTour has experienced a meteoric rise with the European Championships taking the sport to an even higher level than what many believed imaginable in such a short timeframe."
TEAMS ENTERED IN THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFYING TOURNAMENTS
Men: Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, F.Y.R. of Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Wales.
Women: Andorra, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, F.Y.R of Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Wales.