Two years ago when I stepped inside Glorietta in Makati, the mall shook.
It reverberated not because of the music of the band “IV of Spades.” The screaming voices did not come from the kids watching Cartoon Network’s Shriektober, featuring The Powerpuff Girls. The echoes resonated from the bouncing of the ball. It originated from the squeaking sounds of the shoes, the whistle of the referee and the electronic dance music that awakened the mall-goers.
The game was “3 x 3 Basketball” and the dribbling cascaded throughout the five floors of the Ayala-owned mall.
Yes, basketball was played not inside MOA Arena or Araneta Coliseum — but inside the confines of the mall. Hundreds of spectators crowded the half-court to holler. A large video screen displayed slow-motion replays. Basketball fan or not, people stopped their shopping to witness the blocks and lay-ups.
What a brilliant idea.. 3 x 3 in the mall.
This brilliant idea will be showcased when the Tokyo Olympics begin in July. For the first time in the 124-year history of the Olympics, “3 x 3 basketball” will be played.
It all started in 2010 at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Singapore. This is the IOC-organized event for athletes between 14 to 18 years old. One of the pioneering events in Singapore was “3 x 3 basketball.” Fast forward to today, it becomes the first-ever YOG event to have “grown up” to become a full-fledged Olympic medal event.
“From The Streets To The Olympics!” That’s the slogan of 3×3. It’s also labeled as the world’s largest urban team sport. The ad campaign says: “We can play anywhere. We can play in the mall, in the park, on top of the building.”
I like this game because it’s fast. There are no inbounds passes. You sprint outside the 3-point area to start the point. The rules are elementary.
The game clock is 10 minutes and it’s a sprint to whichever team can score 21 points first or whoever has the higher score at the end of the 10th minute.
Simple. Swift. Spine-tingling.
If the 6-on-6 volleyball has beach volleyball, the 5-on-5 basketball has 3 x 3.
With beach volleyball, the spectators stand or sit nearby. The setting is intimate but chaotic. It’s noisy. Music echoes from the speakers.
With 3 x 3 basketball, it’s the same. You are right up in the court. It’s a different atmosphere compared to being one of the 55,000 fans in the Philippine Arena.
In YouTube, I watched the replay of the 2019 SEA Games final between the Philippines and Indonesia. Inside the Filoil Flying V Centre, the Pinoy fans roared to cheer on CJ Perez, Moala Tautuaa, Chris Newsome and Jason Perkins as they won the gold, 21-9.
The only bummer with 3 x 3 in Tokyo? The teams are fielding nobodies. Team USA has Canyon Barry, Robbie Hummel, Dominique Jones and Kareem Maddox?
Too bad we won’t get to see the line-up of Steph Curry, DeAndre Jordan, Paul George and LeBron James. Or how about a Durant, Kawhi, Drummond and Kemba combo?
Still, 3×3 is a must-watch. It’s quick, it’s epic and now it’s Olympic.