Ahead of three-on-three basketball's Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2020, Basketball Australia and the National Basketball League (NBL) have joined forces to announce the foundation of a new 3x3 basketball pathway program.
Designed to identify aspiring players and help them rise from the suburbs of Australia to become athletes competing on the world stage, the program, called 3x3 Hustle, follows the rules of 3x3 basketball -- one of the most popular urban sports in the world.
In 3x3 basketball, each team consists of three players and one substitute and is played on a half-court, with one basket. The game is a single period of 10 minutes with sudden death at 21 points.
Speaking to the press on Thursday, Basketball Australia chairman Ned Coten described the 3x3 Hustle program as a "major development for Australian sport", and said it would be the first professionally-operated 3x3 product in Australia.
"The 3x3 Hustle is a unique opportunity to bring to life a game that all Australians can play and enjoy from street level to the elite level," Coten said.
"The 3x3 Hustle will open up basketball to a new group of players and fans who will embrace a fast, energetic and exciting form of the game."
Coten said ahead of Tokyo 2020, the time was right to introduce a pathway or Australia's best suburban and street basketball players to rise through the ranks to push for Olympic selection.
"Basketball is booming in Australia with over one million people playing the sport, our national teams are winning medals all over the world and our Australian Boomers are the Kings of Asia having won the FIBA Asia Cup this year.
"The 3x3 Hustle will not only grow participation and awareness but also create a pathway for athletes to represent Australia at the Olympic Games."
Meanwhile NBL owner and Executive Chairman, Larry Kestelman was also at the launch in Melbourne, and said it was an "exciting time" for Australian basketball.
"The NBL is one of the best leagues in the world, we have a record number of Australians playing in the NBA and interest in the game has never been higher."
According to Basketball Australia and the NBL, 3x3 Hustle will have a number of 'entry levels' from street level to the professional level. A Pro Hustle will consist of 16 men's and women's teams and will be played in April and May this year.
It will consist of eight professional teams and eight teams from the Big Hustle, a state based 3x3 championship to be played in the lead-up to the Pro Hustle.
In addition to the professional leagues, there will also be a Street Hustle comprising suburban teams, and an Urban Hustle made up of teams from regional areas.
According to Basketball Australia and the NBL, 3x3 Hustle will be endorsed by the sport's international governing body, FIBA, with all events giving participants FIBA 3x3 World ranking points.
In addition to being an Olympic sport from 2020, 3x3 also has a World Pro Tour, an annual Asian Cup and an annual World Cup.