October 7, 2022
The Morning Post-Up, Vol. 2 — The FIBA 3×3 circuit, explained
Plus: Lexie Hull is Lexie Her
Happy Friday! Welcome to The Morning Post-Up, a twice-weekly newsletter from The Next. Today’s edition details the structure of the FIBA 3×3 circuits and gets you up to speed on the U23 3×3 World Cup.
For the better part of the year, teams around the world have been participating in the 2022 FIBA 3×3 season. For national teams, it culminates in a set of World Cup events by age group. The final event of the year, the Under-23 (U23) World Cup, began Wednesday. The 3×3 season is a long one — zone qualifiers for 2023 events will begin almost as soon the U23 World Cup ends. The 2022 season has been a transformative one for the sport, which was catapulted into the world’s attention following its appearance in the Tokyo Olympics. To both celebrate the end of the 2022 season, and to prepare you for what is likely to be an even more exciting 2023 campaign, it’s worth going back to square one.
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What is 3×3?
Organized 3×3 basketball is thought to have originated in the mid-to-late 2000s in the U.S., though it’s undoubtedly been played for much longer. As its popularity increased, more formal competitions eventually formed, with FIBA’s first involvement coming in 2007 with an under-18 (U18) “demonstration” game at the Macau Asian Indoor Games. From there, a standardized set of rules for “FIBA 33” was developed, eventually evolving into its present-day form, FIBA 3×3.
Every FIBA 3×3 match is played on a half court by teams of four (three on court with one sub) with a continuous 10-minute game time and a 12-second shot clock. The first team to 21 points, or the team with the highest score after 10 minutes, wins the match. No coaching is allowed through the course of a competition. As it sounds, this makes for incredibly fast-paced games that can be over almost as soon as they’ve started.
What about the basketball?
The FIBA regulation basketball is not the same as the ball used in the WNBA and NCAA. Since 3×3 is frequently played outside, the ball must be able to withstand high-intensity usage in an outdoor setting. For this reason, among others, the ball used across men’s and women’s pools is the size of a typical women’s ball (size 6), but has the weight of a regulation men’s ball (size 7). FIBA posits that the smaller size allows for “improved ball handling for players of any size,” while the larger weight helps minimize impact of wind. The ball also uses a series of grooves around its circumference to help maximize grip on a wide variety of courts, indoor and outdoor.
The National Team Circuit
National teams, whose rosters are decided by a country’s national federation or basketball governing body, may compete in a series of events by age group. Each country is divided into a geographic “Zone,” which each host Zone Cups throughout the year (ie. AmeriCup, Asia Cup, etc). By competing in Zone Cups, Zone Cup qualifiers and Olympic tournaments, countries can qualify for the Open World Cup, which is not age-restricted. In the United States, the primary Zone event is the AmeriCup (which will be played in Miami from November 4–6.)
U17 and U18 events are also played throughout the year, sticking to the competition’s strong roots in youth basketball. Teams qualify for the U23 World Cup by their federation ranking by a set cut off date. The federation ranking is calculated by the individual world rankings of each of the federation’s top 25 players, though federations can select whichever players they want to represent their nation in the World Cup.
In addition, FIBA also offers a development series, dubbed the “U23 Nations League.” To qualify for the Nations League Final, national teams participate in a Tour made up events called Stops. Usually, the Tour is played in a series of six Stops across six days in the same location as the Final. Teams build up points in each Stop towards overall Nations League Seeding.
The Women’s Series
The Women’s Series is the premiere professional international 3×3 league, which takes in both national and commercial teams. Taking place over a series of Stops (here, two day events around the world that teams can register for), teams are allowed to participate in a select number of events which can increase depending on their overall ranking. After the final Stop, a final ranking list of teams is compiled based on points collected through the season. The top eight teams then move on to the Final, where they play a series of preliminary and knockout games to determine the final winner.
Dish and Swish
Recent results to know
FIBA 3×3 U23 World Cup — Preliminary Round
After three days of play and just 15 games remaining to play, the knockout-round is taking shape. Representatives from Pool C have been decided, with the USA leading the group on a 4–0 record. They will feature in the fourth quarter-final game against the 2nd-place team from Pool A, which will tip-off at 8:25 a.m. on Sunday. Japan follows close behind on a 3–1 record, having lost to the USA during their first Friday match. Mongolia are eliminated from the tournament, having lost to both Japan and the USA. Results from the rest of the groups will be determined throughout the day, and the knockout round will be set later this afternoon. Games are all streaming for free on the FIBA 3×3 YouTube channel.
Lexie Hull has made a splash early, leading all scorers, men’s and women’s, with 22 total points scored after two games. She continued her high-scoring game play in the USA’s third and fourth matches, increasing to a whopping 43 points, a whole eight-points more than the next highest player who has also finished four games, at the time of publication.
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Written by Isabel Rodrigues
Isabel Rodrigues (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Next from upstate New York who regularly covers 3x3 and the state of women's basketball in the U.S. and internationally. She also covers women's sports for The Daily Princetonian, the independent student newspaper of Princeton University.