India can win Olympic 3x3 basketball gold: Rohit Bakshi

League commissioner says country has the talent to make a serious challenge in Tokyo

April 27, 2018 10:56 pm | Updated April 28, 2018 03:26 pm IST - Hyderabad

“India can win an Olympic gold in basketball’s 3x3 format,” Rohit Bakshi, league commissioner, International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3BL-3x3 Pro Basketball League told The Hindu in a telephonic interview recently.

“This 70% game-30% entertainment sport is relatively new. India has talent and the first-mover advantage to make a serious challenge in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where it is a medal sport,” he said.

“3x3 showcases individual abilities. We have height (ideally from 6’ 4” to 6’ 8”), agility, strength and skill. Talent in India needs better infrastructure and platforms to perform,” observed Bakshi.

Convinced there’s potential, Bakshi, his partner Yoshiya Kato and their firm YKBK Enterprise Pvt. Ltd obtained FIBA’s exclusive rights for the Indian sub-continent. On the 10-minute, high speed version’s saleability, he said, “3x3 is an urban sport, for youth. It’s hip-hop, entertainment.”

Six venues

To promote it, their schedule bypassed cricket (post IPL) and picked six spread-out venues for 3BL from June 9 to August 26. Matches will be on weekends at Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Aizawl.

Instead of stadia or regular sports venues, densely peopled city sections such as malls or high traffic areas will serve as stages. “The playing area required is 50x50 feet with movable court, surface and backboard, the arena completely installed in about two hours! But for limited VIP seating, it will be free for public viewing.

“Anyone can spare 10 minutes. It must be seen as a career option rather than a hobby. Typically it will be a 12-game league on Saturday and a seven-game knockout on Sunday. There will be a dozen teams with logos, six of them city-based, playing away sides such as Chandigarh. Open trials will spot new talent for the league comprising national, international and non-resident Indian (NRI) cagers.

Can the game become commercially viable in India? “While replicating the Japanese model, we will localise content. The game needs visibility, stars, rivalries and names to cheer for and recall. Commercial appeal grows when more people watch.

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