Kosta Iliev, a former Bulgarian National team player and FIBA Europe Sports Director has in his latest role been appointed FIBA 3×3 Sports Director. His aim is to bring 3×3 Basketball to the world stage, overseeing its inception into an Olympic discipline. Kostas has overseen the establishment of the official 3×3 rules, design of the tournament’s hierarchy and setting up the first 3×3 nationality based competitions.
Kostas views 3×3 as the best platform to promote basketball beyond arenas and traditional format and offering more attractive locations. With the fast pace and fierce competition experienced during the test events, Kostas is confident in the success of FIBA’s 3×3.
Read below Kostas speaking to Future Stars about 3×3 and its progress onto the world stage and Olympic status.
FS: Could you explain why FIBA has started recognising 3×3 basketball as an almost separate form of the game right now? This is not a new concept,3×3 tournaments were very popular in the early nineties, Adidas, Converse and even Reebok organised their own version, but then interest in it gradually died. Why is FIBA is trying to reinvigorate this concept now?
KI: We think that 3×3 is a great tool to promote the game of Basketball. We believe creating a global competition network will help the sport and the game to grow in popularity and in the number of players involved. 3×3 can help the young players to improve their individual skills as well.
FS: How do you expect the 3×3 game to grow and how will it coexist with the normal full form of basketball. Will it replicate the relationship between indoor and beach volleyball?
KI: We hope that 3×3 will be an excellent addition to the sport of Basketball. We expect a lot of new players unregistered with clubs to take part in 3×3 tournaments. We can also expect plenty of active players to join the 3×3 tournaments. What the further development of 3×3 will be we cannot predict.
FS: Where do you see the main source of players for the 3×3 game. If you expect a lot of unfulfilled basketball players who didn’t succeed in the normal game to drift towards the 3×3 version that will straight away create an inferiority complex. “If you are not good enough for normal basketball –go to play 3×3!”-this is not the greatest endorsement
KI: These kind of players will of course be involved in 3×3. There are plenty of players having a problem to find their place in professional basketball when they finish their junior career and 3×3 can smooth this transition. Also most of the professional players are free agents after the season finishes and 3×3 is a good way for them to keep in shape throughout the summer and show their qualities to the clubs.
FS: 3×3 basketball has very strong street, non-conformist and almost rebellious connotations. This approach rather discourages sponsors. How do you expect this game to attract potential financial backers?
KI: 3×3 is not only a sport, it is also fun, entertainment and social. Our research shows that companies that never worked with basketball are ready to support 3×3 seeing the chance to reach different groups.
FS: Without proper financial backing it will be very difficult to produce genuine stars from the 3×3 game. Without recognisable stars this new sport will struggle to attract interest from major TV stations. How are you planning to combat this situation?
KI: Creating the World Tour with 5 Masters Tournaments in all continents and a Super Final in Miami, World Championships and World University Championship will help a lot to create the stars and role models. IOC also recognized and included 3×3 in the Youth Olympic Games .
FS: How will it be possible to generate income from participating as an organiser, player or owner of a team in 3×3 basketball? Interest in professional sport is generated primarily by the professional clubs which offers constant contact with between spectators and the athletes. There are no professional outfits in the 3×3 game!
KI: There are plenty of private organizers who are doing good business organizing 3×3 tournaments. You can find them everywhere – USA, Russia, Brazil, Tunisia, China, Philippines… The feedback from them is extremely positive. Having a Global Competition Network with a World Tour and Global Ranking System helps them to make their tournaments more popular and attractive both for the participants and the companies.
FS: How realistic is it that 3×3 basketball will become an Olympic sport in the foreseeable future?
KI: The IOC looks very positive to 3×3, especially after the experience of the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. 3×3 fits very well with their strategy to include more urban sports in the official program of the Olympic Games. Rio de Janeiro 2016 is extremely enthusiastic and will initiate the motion to have 3×3 in Rio. FIBA has a goal to make 3×3 an Olympic Sport in 2016 or at the latest 2020.