Change might - as an old dictum is quick to remind us - be the only constant, but it always finds itself grappling with strong headwinds. Attempts to tweak sporting disciplines as we know them have always delivered both shock and vulnerability. Twenty20 cricket was for one regarded with complicated love and condescension when it looked, certainly felt, like it was bastardising the bat-and-ball game.
So when basketball’s governing body Fiba sought to work however it could with 3x3 basketball, there were those who thought a finger was being put in the eye of traditionalists.
To these sceptics, having teams of four (one comfortable with a bit-part role from the bench) use a 12-second clock to play games on a half-court with one hoop was not something to be wholeheartedly approved. 3x3 basketball’s outcome was bound to be the sum of all fears; yet instead of dropping off precipitously this standalone discipline is scheduled to make its Olympic bow at Tokyo 2020.
Far from having flickering embers, 3x3 basketball has hit one pitch of excellence after another in Uganda. Those who thought this variant of basketball would remain severely stunted have been left eating humble pie after watching Uganda’s senior women team emerge from a thinned out field as Africa’s No.1 seed (and 27th in the world).
At any rate, such a feat is bound to swat away any doubts about 3x3 basketball’s significance. Yet Doubting Thomases remain.
Hamza Nyambogo, a hoops coach and as unimpeachable a voice as there is out there about 3x3 basketball, put it succinctly in a chat with your columnist.
Advantage of 3x3
He said thus: “There is no better way to develop and polish players than with three on three. It teaches court awareness, play by play reading and reaction, agility and coordination all done within a short time and small space.”
JKL Lady Dolphins’ sensational midweek capture of a maiden Women National Basketball League title underpins Nyambogo’s submission. Not many gave the Dolphins a whiff of a chance. In UCU Lady Canons, they faced an outfit that possessed an unfailing sense of entitlement.
This owed much to the fact that the Mukono-based side had won the past three championship titles, the last which saw them draw level with the Lady Bucks on seven as Uganda’s most successful women’s club. Yet, their distinguished pedigree notwithstanding, the Lady Canons were reduced to their basest level and desecrated in the best-of-seven finals series.
The reaction was almost uniformly of disbelief when the Lady Dolphins sealed on Wednesday a 4-0 sweep. But maybe it shouldn’t have been. The Lady Dolphins have in their ranks ballers like Jamila Nansikombi and Ritah Imanishimwe, who have polished their boundless skills via various international 3x3 basketball engagements.
Nansikombi particularly had a powerfully calming effect with her trademark shooting behind the arc. It’s a skill that she’s always showcased, but, perhaps, one that has she’s even more willing to amplify thanks to her exploits in basketball.