With the growing popularity of 3×3 basketball in the world, Mariana Islands Basketball Federation will add the sport to their calendar of events for next season.
“We’re looking at holding 3×3 tournaments in the men’s and women’s divisions in the open category and various age groups. Majority of the member-countries of FIBA Oceania have been consistently sending teams to regular tournaments in the region and hopefully we could do that, too,” MIBF development officer Elias Rangamar said.
FIBA Oceania holds 3×3 competitions for men’s and women’s open, and U18 and U23 age groups. There are also two events held every year for the open division—the 3×3 Pacific Championships and 3×3 Oceania Championships. Last year, Guam defeated New South Wales, 11-9, to top the Pacific Championships held in Gold Coast, Australia.
In the world stage, the International Olympic Committee’s executive board announced last month the inclusion of 3×3 in the basketball program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. World Cup events are also held regularly for 3×3.
Rangamar is positive that the CNMI will be able to send teams to FIBA Oceania competitions once MIBF starts hosting regular 3×3 tournaments next year.
“It’s much easier to send teams for 3×3 because you will only need four players (maximum) and one coach. The costs of fielding a 3×3 squad is obviously cheaper than having a 12-man roster in the regular basketball tournament,” Rangamar said.
To get the ball rolling, MIBF has committed on bringing a men’s team to the 3×3 contest in the 2017 Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu this December. A qualifying tournament will be held to determine the Commonwealth’s representative to the Mini Games.
Meanwhile, Joe Diaz, who coaches a pool of players at NMI Rollers, welcomed the addition of 3×3 tournaments to MIBF’s calendar. He said that 3×3 basketball gives a player more opportunities to improve his individual skills.
“I am excited and I am sure my players are, too. We will definitely join these 3×3 tournaments,” the long-time coach said.
MIBF will be shopping for outdoor courts around Saipan for venues for its 3×3 tournaments, while the group will also coordinate with Tinian and Rota so that they could also hold their own competitions.