|Some game action during the 3x3 EuroTour stop in Tallinn|
Just three years after its successful introduction at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, 3x3 basketball has enjoyed an explosive growth.
With an exponential increase in the number of players, events and media coverage, FIBA believes 2013 has been a breakthrough year for 3x3, sentiments shared by FIBA Europe, organisers of the succesful 3x3 EuroTour.
For the first time ever, the 2013 calendar year witnessed an official European 3x3 Tour, which took in eight stops at iconic locations across Europe, before wrapping up with the Tour Final in Budapest, Hungary, where the best teams from each of the tour stops came together to battle for European supremacy.
Across the nine stops leading up to the final, over 1,351 teams took to the court, showcasing the immense popularity of the newest form of basketball.
The 3x3 basketball phenomenon has tasted a similar amount of success and growth away from the old continent. A total of 105 countries have seen at least one promoter joining FIBA's revolutionary digital platform for 3x3 in 2013.
The FIBA 3x3 U18 Championships for Men and Women were hosted for the first time outside of Europe, in Jakarta, Indonesia. The game also expanded to Africa with successful events in Tunisia, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa and Lesotho, with the discipline to be played at the upcoming African Youth Games in Botswana.
Featured in Sports Illustrated, the second edition of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour was a resounding success and an increasing number of cities and promoters are now bidding to organise a stage. In 2014, Manila (Philippines) will host one of the events in a venue that can hold 50,000 fans.
In 2013, FIBA and the Qatar Basketball Federation launched the first-ever FIBA 3x3 All Stars, an event which rewards the best players in the FIBA 3x3 Individual World Ranking, with a grand total of $120,000 in prize money. The event was broadcast in 84 countries, including Latin America where DirecTV reports it was watched by 20 million people.
The early days of 2014 have already shown 3x3's television potential as the Copa América de Basquete 3x3, held in Rio, drew 50 percent of the audience share. In other words, one person out of two watching television in Brazil at the time of the event saw a Brazilian team defeat the US National Champion, proving the country's pioneer status and medal aspirations in 3x3.
Watching Rio and a young Brazilian crowd at the event enjoy 3x3 was a reminder of how much the discipline would fit in the same city, two years from now at the 2016 Olympic Games.
FIBA Secretary General and IOC member Patrick Baumann said: "We strongly believe that 3x3 is an exciting and spectacular discipline which offers a unique cocktail of sports and urban culture and responds to the IOC's clear wish to rejuvenate and modernise the summer programme."
"We are very thankful to Rio 2016 for their continued support in our efforts for the inclusion of 3x3. FIBA has made an official bid to include 3x3 as a new Olympic discipline and is one hundred percent ready to be added to the Games as soon as this is possible."