SINGAPORE - The debut of 3x3 basketball at last year's Tokyo Olympics was hailed as a success by International Basketball Federation (Fiba) secretary-general Andreas Zagklis, who was happy with how the discipline was well-received by fans around the world.
He pointed to the numbers for TV viewership and the reach on social media as evidence of its early success.
For example, the 3x3 men's gold medal match involving Russia, who won 20 gold, 28 silver and 23 bronze medals, and Latvia was the most-watched event of the Tokyo Olympics on Match TV, the Russian sports broadcaster and Olympic rights holder.
Zagklis told The Straits Times: "We're very happy not only with the performances of the players and the fact that we had double the number of medals for our sport in the Olympics, but also with the impact both on TV and social media metrics around the world."
The Greek, who is in Singapore for the Fiba 3x3 Asia Cup which ends on Sunday (July 10), shared how the world governing body are determined to build on the success of 3x3 basketball, which will feature again at the 2024 Paris Games.
For a start, Fiba will be staging over 100 3x3 events this year, he added.
He also noted that prize money for this year's Fiba 3x3 Women's Series, an event on the 3x3 women's professional circuit, will increase by "almost six times" as compared to last year when winners of each stop and the women's series final were awarded US$10,000 (S$14,000) and US$40,000 respectively.
Fiba is also aiming to get more federations to commit more resources to 3x3 basketball and hopes to encourage them to do so through initiatives like creating a specialised certificate for 3x3 coaches to equip them with the relevant knowledge.
"We definitely want to see more federations having dedicated staff, dedicated competitions at the national level and dedicated representation, not occasional representation," said Zagklis.
"Giving know-how to the federations, giving support to the technical people and the providing a clear pathway, which is what we're doing now by opening the way to the Olympic Games."
Zagklis also expressed his support for Singapore's ambition to qualify a 3x3 team for the 2032 Olympics, saying that it was a "possible target".
He added that the 3x3 format, which fields teams of three instead of five in traditional basketball, also gives countries with a smaller population the opportunity to excel.
At last year's Olympics, Latvia, which has a population of 1.9 million, claimed the tournament's first 3x3 basketball gold medal.
The United States, a traditional basketball powerhouse, saw their men's team miss out on qualifying for the 3x3 contest, while countries like Mongolia made an appearance at the Games.
Zagklis said: "It does give a chance to countries that have not had many successes in the past to add to their pedigree of successful representation to their country both at a regional, continental and world level.
"You require a smaller number of players so you don't have to have a large population so it definitely gives a bigger opportunity to countries with a smaller population."