3x3 basketball will debut at the Tokyo Olympics and the new event is set to make things very interesting with its incredibly fast-paced nature. The introduction has many sports fans at the edge of their seats. It was in June 2017 that the International Olympic Committee announced that 3x3 basketball would be contested at the Tokyo Olympics. The street game has traveled a long way to reach the Olympics and has many age-old fans eagerly waiting to watch it play out. 

Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics later this month, here is a look at the rules of the game and the fan favorites. 


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The 3×3 basketball at the Olympics will be an eight-nation tournament for each gender. There are quite a few ways in which the 3x3 basketball differs from traditional basketball. However, basic rules like ball handling regulations, basic violation rules like goaltending, double dribble, three-second rules, and so on remain more or less the same. 

3x3 Basketball is fast-paced and exciting since there are 2 teams of 3 players each playing on the court, while there is one player sitting on the bench as a sub. The substitute can enter the game anytime during a dead ball situation by tagging an outgoing player. Unlike the 5x5 game, which is played on a full-scale basketball court (28mx15m), a 3x3 game is played on a half court (measuring 11m in length and 15m in breadth) with only one rim.

According to Olympic.com, the playing area is divided into two parts by a semi-circular arc, drawn at a radius of 6.75m from the center of the ring. The area inside the arc is called the one-point zone and the area outside the arc is called the two-point zone. There’s a rectangular area (5.8mx4.9m) under the hoop called the key and its outer edge parallel to the baseline is called the free throw line.

The players play with the official FIBA-sanctioned 3x3 basketball ball — it is the same weight (620g) as the official size 7 basketball used in FIBA’s official men’s 5x5 games but is a little smaller (72.39cm in diameter) compared to it ( a size 7 basketball is 74.93cm in diameter). The smaller size facilitates better ball handling to suit the faster pace of the game.

The first team to make 21 points is the winner or the team with the most points after 10 minutes. There’s a 12-second shot clock to score. Shots made inside the arc is one point, and anything outside is 2. The ball never stops! There are no breaks after a score. It is all a ten-minute sprint. 

"3x3 basketball is an incredibly fast-paced and exciting sport which differs from traditional 5 v 5 in many ways. In this video we introduce you to the rules of 3x3 basketball!" reads description of FIBA's video on it. Watch below:


Who are the fan favorites?

It was big setback that the US men's team reportedly failed to qualify for the Olympic debut of 3×3 basketball. But a women’s team of WNBA standouts did qualify for the Tokyo Games and the country is putting their faith in them. 

Stefanie Dolson, Kelsey Plum, Allisha Gray and Katie Lou Samuelson made up the US women’s team that qualified for Tokyo by getting placing in the top three at the tournament. Dolson, Plum, Gray, Samuelson are among the 29 total players in the US women’s national team pool.


Katie Lou Samuelson has already won a gold for her country in 3x3 at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. She will become the first USA basketball player to compete in the Youth Olympic Games and the Olympic Games. On the other hand, Allisha Gray led the team at the tournament, scoring 39 points. While Gray along with Dolson and Plum, are all newcomers to the format, perhaps Samuelson will have them covered. 

Even as the USA awaits positive results — since the country stands at #15 on the FIBA women's ranking u2014 — chances are France might take the gold as it holds the #1 rank. ROC and Romania are the other frontrunners. For the men, Serbia, ROC and China are the frontrunners.

The game commences at Aomi Urban Sports Park from July 24-28 with the pool stage being played from July 24-27. The knock-out games will start on July 27, and the semi-finals and the medal games are set for July 28.