By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
FROM Bengaluru, India, 3-on-3 basketball teams, including one from the Philippines, vying for a spot in the Olympic Games will trek to Graz, Austria, instead for qualifiers slated for May 2021.
In an announcement made by world basketball governing body FIBA on Tuesday, the 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament will now take place from May 26–30 next year in what organizers said will be built around “modernity and sustainability.”
The qualifiers were originally set for March in Bengaluru this year until the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic rendered it an impossibility to be staged.
Also affected by the pandemic was the Olympic Games in Tokyo which was pushed back to next year.
Three-on-three basketball is set to make its debut in the Olympics.
In being chosen as the new host of the qualifiers, Austria said it welcomes the opportunity as it is a chance for it to showcase its newly crafted thrust as far as sports is concerned.
“The focus of our government in sports is the promotion of trending and green sporting events. The FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament combines modernity and sustainability in a unique way,” said Austria Vice-Chancellor and Sports Minister Werner Kogler.
He went on to say that their sustainability concept was developed based on waste management, energy and water use, mobility and climate protection, regional products and social responsibility.
For FIBA, to have Austria come on board 3×3 basketball’s Olympic journey is a great addition considering what it has to offer.
“FIBA is delighted that the road to the Olympics will stop in Graz’s iconic Hauptplatz and that the Austrian authorities have vowed to make it the greenest, most sustainable event to date, which is entirely in line with our concept of reduced ecological footprint of 3×3,” said FIBA Executive Director for Europe Kamil Novak.
In the Graz qualifiers, 40 teams (20 in each gender) coming from 36 different countries will compete for the six tickets (three per gender) to Tokyo.
Among those squads is Team Philippines, led by the country’s top two 3×3 players Joshua Munzon and Alvin Pasaol. They are joined by Southeast Asian Games gold medallists CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa from the Philippine Basketball Association.
“We will be ready come 2021,” said executive Ronald Mascariñas of Chooks-to-Go, whose group is a huge supporter of the Philippine 3×3 team and one of the prime movers of the sport here in the country.
As per the draw, the Philippines will open its OQT bid in Group C along with Slovenia, France, Qatar and the Dominican Republic.
The local organizers of the Graz qualifiers said they will build a temporary outdoor venue of a 2,000-seat capacity for the occasion and are already looking forward to the event.
“Fast, exciting, diverse, entertaining, inspiring: this is 3×3 basketball. The FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifier will be the highlight of the Graz sports year in 2021,” said Graz Mayor Siegfried Nagl.
For more information about 3×3 at the Tokyo Olympics, go to http://fiba3x3.basketball/olympics.