India can rise through 3x3 format: FIBA

FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis. DH Photo/ B H Shivakumar

If the successes of Indian Premier League (IPL), Indian Super League (ISL) and Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) are anything to go by, it proves that professional leagues can go a long way in popularizing a sport among the masses. 

Basketball, a widely-played sport, has yet to find its footing in India. Although efforts are being made by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) with the help of FIBA -- the international body -- to spread it across the country, it is yet to come to fruition.

Looking to address this concern, in March this year, the BFI had announced the launch of  a six-team women’s basketball league, to be played in six cities, which will be followed by the formation of a men’s league.

FIBA sees this development as an opportunity and are willing to help with the growth of the sport. “Our development efforts are simply tailor-made to the needs of every country,” said Andreas Zagklis, the FIBA Secretary General here.

“For basketball in a country to grow, you need two strong pillars, you need a national team and national league. These are the two pillars on the basis of which we encourage the federations to build their work,” he added.

Zagklis said they have had discussion with the Indian federation regarding the league. “These are discussions where we provide know-how, comparative studies, and FIBA has the statistics from all the big leagues in the world. We can give data, and of course, we can provide our international contacts, and with that, I believe the federation like the BFI will have all the support it needs for strategic plans from FIBA. The specific decision on the formation of the league will be taken by the board of the federation,” he offered.

The 3x3 game – a shorter and quicker format of basketball – has taken the sport by storm ever since its inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Zagklis believes this discipline will provide ‘a different path for the countries, who are not traditional leaders’.

“Basketball sport has two Olympic discipline -- the traditional (5x5) basketball and 3x3 basketball, this is where we also believe India has huge potential. It is much easier to have four players in the national team than 12. The amount of time you take to prepare a team of 12 as compared to those of four is longer, therefore some of our member federations have embraced 3x3 as their principal way of making it to the top," he said.

He also said India, having already hosted women’s FIBA event, may get to host men's competition in future. “I do believe that the BFI in the near future could be a real candidate for both men's and women's events at the Asian and also the world level,” said Zagklis.

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