When cricket and football have formed shorter versions to appease the fancy of the current generation,with T20 and rink football formats respectively,basketball is not to be left behind. Already considered one of the fastest sports,in terms of tempo,the game that conventionally starts with five players on each side has now shortened its team requirement to three starters and one substitute. The games popularity has steadily been growing in the country.
Moreover,the Indian national basketball teams have found more success in the shorter form of the game,with the latest win coming in Doha at the inaugural FIBA Asia 3×3 Basketball Championship when the womens team beat Mongolia to win the title. And while the compact version of the sport is doing well to help raise Indias status in the game,the traditional format still begs to be recognised.
Visiting India to be a part of the NBA Jam 3×3 Basketball Tournament,were former NBA stars,Peja Stojakovic,Horace Grant and Ron Harper this last weekend. All three claim to have played the shorter format in their youth while developing their skills in the game. Yet the visiting trio still hold the five-a-side format as the better game.
Its a good game to generate the anger and passion for basketball, says Stojakovic,who has never played the shorter format professionally. The good thing about it is that it gives the players the drive to win and do well. But it is just for the start in basketball, he adds.
Harper,a five-time NBA champion states that the 3×3 game is much faster than the original 5×5 format. You dont get much time to think or innovate. Which means you have to make sure your basics are right.
Another former NBA champion Grant,who has represented the NBA in 3×3 tournaments in Australia and Africa,agrees with his fellow NBA legend.
Its a faster game than the normal one, he says. It teaches you to play faster in terms of passing the ball and moving off the ball. It helps you to think quicker and gets you in the flow of the game. Once thats done,the five-on-five game will come.
Recognising his role in India as an ambassador for the NBA,Grant states that he wants to get the youth more involved in the game. Forming a metaphor to explain the purpose of the 3×3 format,he states,three-by-three is just the seed in the game. It has already been planted here and the kids are doing very well. Hopefully,we can water that seed with our experience and help it grow into the five-on-five. That format is real basketball.