Shawn Swords, a former Canadian Olympian and current coach of the 3×3 mens basketball team, believes the specialized competition could, one day, become an Olympic event.
Swords led the the Canadian team to an 8-2 record in Spain this past weekend at the second-annual FIBA 3×3 under-18 world championship.
With sports such as BMX cycling and beach volleyball making their Olympic debut in recent years, Swords can see 3×3 basketball on the world’s greatest sporting stage.
“That’s why FIBA’s trying to do more events like this, because they’d like to see that happen, and I think ‘Why not?’ said Swords.
“So many other sports have all kinds of disciplines at the Olympics. For team sports you look at volleyball, they have beach volleyball, why can’t we do a similar thing and push a three-on-three sport?”
The games are shorter in length, played on half the court, three-pointers are worth two points, two-pointers are worth one, music blasts in the background, and the shot clock counts down from 12, pushing the game to a frenetic pace.
It makes for a very different game than the standard five-on-five competition that has been contested on the Olympic level since 1936.
“I think it’s exciting to watch too because it’s really high-paced, outdoors, it’s a great environment,” said Swords.
“I think it’s something that would definitely draw a lot of people to watch, and it would be a fun game to play and I’m sure the players would love it.”
The Canadian men were successful in their trip going undefeated in pool play before finishing fourth overall, while the women’s team ended with a 2-3 record.
Representing Canada with their strong play were 6-7 forward Brody Clark from Toronto, 6-5 small forward Chris McComber from Ottawa, 6-8 power forward Marko Pirovic from Bolton, and 6-1 guard Troy Reid-Knight from Vaughan.
The Canucks barreled through the competition in Group A on the first day, winning against Slovakia (17-16), the Netherlands (20-5), France (20-17) and Belize (18-14).
With momentum building, Canada continued their undefeated streak with wins over China (20-14), New Zealand (16-15) and Poland (17-10), and emerged from group play 7-0 with a bye to the quarterfinals.
Canada defeated a tough Romanian team 19-17 to advance to the semis against the United States. Unable to extend their unbeaten streak, the Canadian side fell 17-13 to the USA who would later lose to Serbia 21-20 in the Gold medal match.
In the Bronze medal game Canada lost 19-11 to France and finished just off the podium with an 8-2 record overall, fourth out of 32 participating countries.
“At the end I think we just ran out of gas against France and the guys were really tired,” explained Swords. “I mean, there’s ten games in three days and it’s a lot of stress on the players to go through that without even counting the flying across to Europe and playing the next day.”
“I think the four guys we brought were unbelievable, they played really hard, and really I think we outworked almost every team we played,” said Swords.
“A lot should be said to those four guys for how they competed and represented Canada.”