Now, football is lagging behind, the only major team sports contested at the Games without any variation. After rugby and its variation in VII, introduced at the Rio Games in 2016, volleyball and its beach volleyball cousin, launched in Atlanta in 1996, here is the 3 x 3, little brother of 5-a-side basketball, has entered in the dance. “It is an immense pride to be pioneers but also a great responsibility towards all the people who work all year round to give visibility to this sport”, explains Ana-Marie Philip, pivot of this three-way French team.
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Emmanuel Macron, interested spectator
By attending the French women’s first match against the United States on Saturday July 24, President Emmanuel Macron played the game of modernity. Like that of femininity, since only the French 3 x 3 are qualified, the boys having stalled little during the final qualifying tournament at the end of May. ” We are one of the rare nations to present three teams, two in 5 x 5 and one female in 3 x 3 and it is already a success “, proclaims the national technical director Alain Contensoux.
Saturday, July 24, the Blue had a lot to do against the Americans (10-17) encouraged by Jill Biden, the wife of the American president, who also wanted to mark the occasion. A little later they redeemed themselves against Italy (19-16), preserving their chances of participating in the finals, before returning to the floor twice this Sunday, July 25, at 10:55 a.m. against Japan, then at 2 p.m. h 00 against the Chinese.The IOC has in fact chosen to give the maximum visibility to this new sport with a general pool where the eight selected nations meet, before the knockout stages: play-offs, half, then final.
Ten minutes around a single basket
Propelled as an official sport within the International Federation in 2012, 3 x 3 basketball stems from urban culture like skateboarding, which also made its debut in Tokyo. And soon breaking, invited to the Paris Games in 2024. The demands placed on these new sports are relentless: a reduced number of nations involving as few athletes as possible, so as not to exceed the maximum Olympic tonnage (11,000 selected at Tokyo, 10,500 in Paris). Without forgetting simple rules easy to absorb for the traditional public of the Games. Obligation to which the 3 x 3 subscribes perfectly with its matches in ten minutes opposing two teams of three players around a single basket.
A great basketball nation, France believed it right away, quickly appointing a team to supervise what was then a street sport, far from imagining an Olympic destiny, enacted in 2017 for Tokyo 2020. Paris 2024 followed and the bosses of the 3 x 3 are counting on an extension until Los Angeles 2028. Richard Billant, long coach of Caen then of Le Havre in pro D2, did not hesitate to jump on the train of 3 in 2012. “ It’s fun, technical and easy to organize, everything that conditions the development of a modern sport was there, he explains, on is doomed to succeed and I believe we are in the process of achieving it. “
The whole world is doing it
The other great basketball nations have also accompanied the movement. This is true in North America, in the Balkans (Serbia is the best men’s team at the moment) or even in the East as in the Philippines, China or Japan. As in France, most of the players selected for the national team pursue a double career there, 5 in club or 3 in demonstration competitions.
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“The two disciplines are complementary, the 3 is more tactical, the 5 more physical, but we will undoubtedly witness a specialization in the long term, the development of the 3 is accompanied by a rise in power of a specific economy with sponsors and TV channels that are starting to show interest, continues the enthusiastic Richard Billant. We really have everything to succeed, I am 62 years old, I will be retiring after Paris 2024, I am sure that the baby will have grown even more. “