The third edition of the FIBA 3×3 Europe Cup will be held in Amsterdam from 7-9 July 2017. Coach Brian Benjamin of the Dutch men’s team views this event as a great opportunity to showcase how fun 3×3 basketball can be.
Benjamin: “It is a wonderful sport to look at; there is always something going on, it’s very active and spectacular, and it is in line with young people’s experience of the world. The figures reflect this; ever since the registration of 3×3 basketball players commenced in 2012, over 10,000 players have registered. As such, 3×3 basketball is the fastest growing type of basketball. And the idea of being able to view this sport at the centre of town, at the Museumplein, is amazing.”
There are people who do not consider 3×3 basketball to be a serious type of basketball. How do you feel about that?
Benjamin: “First of all, I think that we should take this sport seriously, because it will be a medal-winning sport at the Olympics in three years. With its current teams, the Netherlands has a good chance of being able to compete at the Olympics with 1 or 2 teams; our odds here are better than with 5×5 basketball. So why would we not put our all into it? Moreover, 3×3 basketball can really contribute to young basketball players’ development. There are so many ways to train groups of 3 in basketball. This development is also being picked up by the KNVB, the Royal Dutch Football Association. To help the younger children develop more, especially in terms of their technique, more and more play and game modes featuring smaller numbers of players are being used. In 3×3 basketball, players need to have proper mastery of every part of the game. How could anyone be opposed to that? In 5×5 basketball, there is still some room to hide, but that’s simply not possible in 3×3. Furthermore I feel that, as a sport, you should take every opportunity to grow. You have to adjust your proposition to appeal to people who would not ordinarily find their way to a basketball court. What could be so wrong about offering 3×3 to appeal to children who otherwise would never have started playing basketball? Some people are always going to be purists about these kinds of things; I understand that. But consider the music industry, for instance. New music genres are always seen as weird at the start. House used to not be considered proper music, but is now seen as a fully developed music genre. People who are against 3×3 basketball are fighting a losing battle.”
What makes for a good 3×3 basketball player?
Benjamin: “Specialists are no use, unlike in ‘regular’ basketball. The perfect 3×3 player is 6’5, good at dribbling, good at moving towards the basket, has an eye for the game, and can pass properly. On top of that, you have to be physically strong and good at defence. Your shot also matters a great deal; three-pointers are worth 2 points, whereas regular goals are only worth 1 point. As such, three-pointers are 50% more valuable and can really make the difference in a game. In short, you have to be an all-rounder, and it is really beneficial for everyone to have good scoring skills.”
How do you select your team? Do you also look at premier-league players?
Benjamin: “For the men, 3×3 and regular basketball do not combine well, if at all. First of all, the agenda overlaps. The 3×3 season lasts until October, and by then the regular basketball season is already in full swing. But it is difficult in practical terms as well; in the basketball world these days, players often sign one-year contracts. Players go around looking for new employers during the summer, and as such are unable to commit to our kind of programme. And they are afraid to get injured, because they make their real money in regular basketball.”