With two previous Commonwealth Games appearances – Melbourne 2006 and Gold Coast 2018 – Basketball is back on the programme for the 2022 Games in Birmingham in a new 3×3 format. Birmingham will see a debut too for Wheelchair Basketball, also in the 3×3 format. This will be the first time that Basketball has been a part of any Games outside Australia.
Scotland’s basketball players have impressed in both their Commonwealth Games outings to date with 6th place in 2006 and a fantastic 4th place at Gold Coast 2018. We spoke to 2018 team captain Kieron Achara about his Games experience in Gold Coast and what the move to the 3 x 3 format at Birmingham 2022 will mean for the sport and for Scotland.
After a gap of 12 years Basketball was back in the Commonwealth Games for Gold Coast 2018 – what did it mean to the sport and for you personally to have that opportunity to compete?
“It was a real spark of inspiration for our sport. It allowed us to showcase our sport to a national audience. It gave us a platform to inspire younger players to give their absolute all to hopefully get an opportunity to compete in the future. Personally, it was a dream come true. I got injured before 2006 and never knew if I would ever get another chance, so I was so thankful when we were selected to attend in 2018. My best memory was celebrating by singing the Proclaimers 500 miles after beating England in our first game. I will never forget that!”
Basketball is back in the Games for Birmingham 2022, this time in 3×3 format – how will this change Scotland’s preparations and what will change in selecting and preparing a team, compared to the traditional format?
“3×3 really is a different style of play, with really offensive minded players who can create their own shot best suited to the game. Preparation could actually be a lot easier since there will only be four athletes competing, the challenge will be narrowing the squad down to those players. With FIBA format players can collect points as individuals, which could make it easier to select a squad. I believe the squad has to play in as many 3×3 tournaments on the FIBA circuit as possible to help with preparation. The game is so new to Scotland, however, if players start embracing the change and start entering tournaments as soon as possible I believe they will really make giant steps forward.”
What opportunities will the new format bring for the sport?
“I personally believe 3×3 is perfect for smaller nations as the depth chart is a lot less – it is a lot easier to get four talented players rather than 12. I also believe it will be a great development tool for 5 v 5 as players will be forced to work more on their skills in order to score as opposed to just relying on tactics.
“The new format will also attract a new basketball audience as the games are fast paced and exciting for everybody. FIBA at this current moment have a stat that around 80% of their fan base on the circuit are new fans to basketball. Since 3×3 games tend to be played outside in areas of high footfall it captures new audiences. I think the Commonwealth Games will showcase just how fun and action packed the 3×3 game is.”
Wheelchair Basketball is also in the Games for the first time, again in 3×3 format, what will that mean for the sport in Scotland?
“Very similar to the walking game, this will give wheelchair basketball another platform to promote the sport. From my experiences in Scotland it was sometimes difficult to get enough wheelchair players to compete, especially recreationally. With 3×3 having fewer participants needed it creates more opportunity to play the sport.”
What is 3 x 3 Basketball?
|Also being introduced as an Olympic sport for the first time in 2020, 3×3 Basketball can be played inside or outside and consists of three players for each team and one substitute (two substitutes in the wheelchair game).
It is played on a half court with only one basket and the winner is the first team to 21 points, or whichever team has the highest score after 10 minutes. The three-point line in conventional basketball serves as the two-point line, therefore meaning any shots taken from outside the arch will result in 2 points, where as any taken from inside the arch will only be counted as 1 point.
3×3 Basketball is said to have been inspired by several forms of streetball played by many worldwide, and is considered to be the world’s number one urban team sport.