3x3 Basketball is making its Olympics debut in Tokyo 2020. Picture: Olympics.com

Just nine years after its inaugural World Cup, 3x3 basketball will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo with the world watching on from home.

For the first time in Olympic history, 13 different nations will battle it out for a gold medal in both men’s and women’s 3×3 basketball. For all your Olympic coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.

What is 3×3 Basketball?

It’s pretty crazy. If you can picture a game of half-court basketball down at the rec centre but instead of you and your friends, the people playing are world-class athletes, that’s what it is.

The objective is simple, get to 21 points before the other team. Shots from outside the arc count for two and inside count for one.

If neither team reaches the 21 point goal, whoever is in front at the end of the 10 minute period is deemed the winner.

On the off chance that the 10-minute timer is up and both teams are locked at the same score, overtime is played and the first team to score two points wins the game.

There is a 12-second shot-clock as opposed to the 24 seconds given in a normal game of FIBA basketball.

Three players are allowed on the court per team at one time with one player named as a substitute that can interchange at various intervals throughout the game.

Aussie absence

Australia will head into Tokyo without a team in the 3×3 Basketball competition.

For the men, it should come as no surprise, with Australia currently ranked number 46 in the world, the Aussies were always unlikely to feature.

For the Australian women’s team, though, it is an entirely different story. The Aussies placed fourth in the 2019 World Cup and put in an impressive showing throughout, qualifying for the knockout round from a tough group.

With qualification for Tokyo firmly in their sights, the team went down 14-12 to Spain in the Quarter Finals of the qualification tournament, leaving them without a spot in the inaugural 3×3 Olympic appearance.

More Tokyo 2020 News:

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‘What does it mean to everyone else?’ Flying the flag for Australians at Tokyo 2020

The hot shots

SerbiaRussian Olympic Committee
Russian Olympic CommitteeChina

Serbia will go into the Olympics as the team to beat in the men’s division. It has dominated the sport since the inception of the 3×3 World Cup in 2012, making the final of the competition five years in a row before a fourth-place finish in 2019 brought the streak to a halt.

Orlovi, which translates from Serbian to ‘The Eagles’, will go into the tournament as the number one ranked team.

Reigning 3×3 Basketball world champions, the USA, was knocked out in the qualifying stages by the Netherlands in what was a massive upset.

Latvia and Poland rounded out the podium finishes at the 3×3 Basketball World Cup and will look to replicate that success in Tokyo with both teams qualifying.

Belgium enters Tokyo with the lowest 3×3 Basketball ranking out of all men’s competitors at number 15 in the world. Joining Belgium as part of the tournament despite being outside the top 10 is Poland, China and host nation Japan.

As for the women, it’s tough to go past France and Russia as gold-medal favourites. The French are the number one ranked team in the world and will be out to redeem themselves after failing to make the 2019 World Cup Final.

China will be Asia’s best hope of a medal, ranked fourth in the world, they are the reigning world champions.

Four of the top five ranked players in the world come from the same country in both the men’s (Serbia) and women’s (France) competitions.

These two will certainly be tough to beat, but the nature of 3×3 basketball means that anything can happen and for Tokyo 2020 to go without an upset at one stage or another would be a momentous surprise.

When to watch

It all kicks off on July 24 with the initial pool rounds. Each team will play each other once, with the top two teams at the end of the pool round advancing to the semi-finals of the competition.

The teams that finish 3rd and 6th will play each other in the first quarter-final and 4th vs 5th in the second.

The loser of these games will be eliminated and the winner will play off against one of the 1st and 2nd placed teams for a spot in the gold medal game.

Incredibly, despite 68 games across the men’s and women’s competition, the 3×3 basketball schedule is all over in just four days, with the gold and bronze medal games occurring in the evening on July 28.

Each day has three separate sessions where four games are played, so if you fancy some 3×3 basketball action at any point in late July, you’re in luck.

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