Canada's best 3-on-3 basketball teams hit court in Edmonton
Three years ahead of the 2020 Olympics, three-a-side hoops is gaining momentum
Three-on-three basketball is often played on a whim at outdoor courts and in open gymnasiums. But this weekend, eight of the best Canadian teams will play at the West Edmonton Mall for a shot at the world tour.
A month ago, the International Olympic Committee announced three-on-three would be added as an event in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The Canada Quest 3x3 Finals taking place on Saturday and Sunday are a long shot from the Olympics. But the top two teams from this weekend's tournament will join the world tour in Saskatoon, where they'll play top-ranked teams from Slovenia, Japan, and Brazil.
"This will really be a main mechanism to help funnel athletes into that program, identifying athletes and potentially identifying a team that will represent Canada to play at the Olympic Games and other world competitions for three-on-three where nations are represented," said Bryan Crawford, senior director with Canada Basketball, the national governing body for the sport.
The top-ranked team going into the tournament is from Saskatoon and has already earned itself a spot in the tour. The team has already represented the city and the country at multiple tournaments around the world.
On Friday, 21-year-old Dustin Gatzki, one of the players on the Edmonton team, practised with his teammates on the court at the West Edmonton Mall. He had just walked over from his job at a shoe store.
For him, winning this tournament and getting free trips to play in more three-on-three tournaments is a dream.
"Right now, I just want to put on a show for my hometown," Gatzki said. "I would love to go around the world. Can't wait."
It is a much faster game with a 10-minute clock.- Bryan Crawford, director with Canada Basketball
Although he enjoys a full court five-on-five traditional basketball game, he said he's considering playing more three-on-three tournaments as chance to eventually make the Olympics.
Not your traditional basketball game
Three-on-three might be the perfect event for people who don't want to invest too much time and attention in a basketball game. The court is only half a court. The game is only 10 minutes long, which forces the players to make quick decisions, leading to more three-pointers and dunks.
"It's a completely different game than five-on-five," said Crawford. "It is a much faster game with a 10-minute clock. It's a full-speed sprint that entire time."
Preliminary games start at noon Saturday and run until 4 p.m. at the West Edmonton Mall. The finals take place on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.