XI'AN, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Four years ago at the 13th National Games, the 3x3 basketball was more like a half-court 5x5 competition.
Now at the Shannxi National Games, fans can see no difference between the court inside the Xi'an Metropolitan Sports Park and the Olympic court in Tokyo 2020.
The 3x3 basketball in China is developing quickly and has become more international thanks to the success of the Chinese teams at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
China won the bronze medal in the women's 3x3 tournament last month, the first Olympic basketball medal in 29 years since China won the silver medal in women's basketball at Barcelona 1992.
When 3x3 basketball was included into the National Games for the first time four years ago in Tianjin, the games were played in a half court of a typical indoor basketball stadium.
No music, no sparkle lights, and almost no audience as the event was so new that people tagged it as an exercise, not a sport.
But this time in the Xi'an National Games, the 3x3 basketball court with a water-proof roof is set up in a sports park where DJs and music are inseparable parts of the games.
The court was constructed under the rules of international competition and the organizers believe it could host any international 3x3 basketball tournament in the future.
"The event attracted more teams, both professional and amateur, and 3x3 basketball has spread fast in China," said Yin Zhe, director of the 3x3 basketball department of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
"We won a bronze medal at Tokyo 2020, and in 2019 we won the World Championship. I think this is an opportunity for the event to become popular in China," Yin added.
The CBA, headed by basketball legend Yao Ming, announced on September 10 to set up a professional 3x3 basketball league, which is scheduled to kick off in 2022.
It will be the third professional basketball league in China, which has had men's and women's domestic 5x5 leagues for years.
An amateur 3x3 league has been run since 2015, also under the supervision of the CBA, and the first 3x3 Basketball Championship was held in 2014 in China.
"We're only in the starting stage for the development of 3x3 basketball, but we're confident to attract more fans and to have better results at Paris 2024 and to have more fans on 3x3 basketball courts," Yin vowed.
Most of the 3x3 players are recruited from the 5x5 clubs, which could ensure decent incomes. A professional league might produce more chances for 3x3 players who could be more dedicated to the sport.
"We will host the usual 3x3 Elite Club Championship in October to prepare for the professional league. We hope to have professional 3x3 players, teams and a league in the new system to find more talents for the sport," Yin said.
"Now we still need 5x5 basketball to find players, but I believe, in the future, the 3x3 basketball will blossom to have its own future," he added. Enditem