|23 April 2012|
The 3on3 Gran Canaria Tour, a wonderful basketball adventure that began in Las Palmas on 24 February, came full circle and concluded in the island capital two months later, with Saturday's Master Final.
The Tour has had a huge impact on the Spanish island in general, but no one enjoyed it more than the youth of Gran Canaria.
Thousands of young fans and players enthusiastically embraced the relatively new discipline and became a part of the event in San Bartolome, Santa Brigida, Arucas and of course Las Palmas.
Lucas Bravo de Laguna, Chief Executive of the Sports Council of Gran Canaria, has been one of the main supporters of the tour since the very moment of its conception.
|Lucas Bravo de Laguna of the Sports Council of Gran Canaria presents FIBA Europe Head of Operations Miguel Betancor with an award in recognition of FIBA Europe's support in organising the Gran Canaria 3on3 Tour |
"I am very satisfied with the final result of this initiative, despite the fact that, in my opinion, we didn't have a lot of time in advance to prepare it," he said.
"But the high number of participants and the whole atmosphere that we experienced in every one of the Tour's demonstrates how Gran Canaria breathes basketball and that any effort we make is worth it to host competitions like the 3on3 on our island," Mr Bravo de Laguna added.
Among the many distinguished guests at the Master Final were three Spain internationals at youth level.
19-year-old Yurena Diaz, 18-year-old Astou Ndour and 17-year-old Leticia Romero all play for Spanish top flight side Gran Canaria 2014.
The club, with one of the most youthful rosters in any European competition, came within only one step of the EuroCup Women semi-finals this year.
|Spain U18 international Yurena Diaz at the Gran Canaria 3on3 Tour Master Final in Las Palmas|
Despite the success they have enjoyed at both club and international level, the three young players watched and even played in some 3on3 games during the Tour and they admit they almost enjoyed it more than regular, 5on5 basketball.
"The best thing about 3on3 is that the crowd and the fans are very close to the court are and you can feel their enthusiasm," said Diaz.
"There is not so much pressure in a 3on3 tournament, you can change at any time and take a breath, the games are shorter but you play a lot of them," added Ndour.
Romero meanwhile, the youngest of the three, likes "the free game, playing with not so many rules, more direct and quick, you can play with your friends, play outside and have fun!"
|Spain internationals Leticia Romero and Astou Ndour at the Gran Canaria 3on3 Tour Master Final|
"In the 3on3 there are more spaces, is faster, you can play the one-on-one with less help from the defence, there are no systems, the 3on3 events are more spectacular, you can play mixed and also get to know a lot of people, boys and girls," Romero, who is a point guard, added.
"In a 3on3 competition you have no time to think, everything goes faster, the referees normally are more permissive, defences are stronger but also less tactical," said Ndour, who is a center.
Diaz summed up what the 3on3 experience is like for young people, regardless of their previous involvement with basketball.
"The 3on3 events give the chance to everyone to participate," she said.
"You don't need a gym or a lot of equipment, only a basketball is enough and you can go out and play."
The FIBA Europe crew has already disassembled the courts that were used in the Gran Canaria Tour and all equipment is now on its way to Leon, in mainland Spain, for the competition that will run from 10 to 13 May.