3-on-3 basketball growing in popularity
Rugby has sevens, cricket has T20, and now basketball's abbreviated version is hoping to ride a wave of success all the way to the Olympics.
3-on-3 basketball is getting a serious push from international governing body Fiba, with plans already in motion to have the short-form version of the world's second most popular sport fast- tracked all the way to the Olympics, a la beach volleyball.
And the wave of popularity surrounding this fast-paced street version of the game, which has been around for decades, is already being felt in New Zealand where Auckland-based, Basketball NZ-backed organiser Glen Green faces such demand for events that he simply can't keep up.
Green, who runs 3-on-3 tournaments and exhibitions through his There's A Better Way community programme, has brought out three acclaimed New York streetballers to feature in his latest push for the sport.
The Uptown 214 team, led by New York streetball legend Aaron "The Problem" Williams, is the feature act that is taking in a number of stops in Northland, Auckland and Waikato over the next week or so.
Feature appearances include a halftime exhibition at the Breakers' next home game against the Wollongong Hawks on Friday and an open tournament in West Auckland on February 17.
New Zealand already has a 3-on-3 world championship to its name, with teenage Tall Blacks Isaac Fotu and Tai Webster combining with Breakers development player Reuben Te Rangi to claim the under-17 title in 2011.
Green says he's seeing massive growth in a sport that has huge appeal to the urban youth in New Zealand, and in the process can also help keep youngsters off the streets and involved in a worthwhile pursuit.
"Basketball has influenced my life in a positive way, and now I'm seeing it help so many other people through our programme," said Green.
"3-on-3 is a small sport but it's a powerful one. Our motto is to create the platform for positive change and that's what we're doing through the growth of three-on-three basketball."
Fiba has already established a clear pathway for those serious about the sport, with the potential for tournament winners in New Zealand to head to major world events.
A quick glance through YouTube will tell you all you need to know about the excitement of a sport that the governing bodies are now taking very seriously indeed.