A sultry Saturday afternoon (June 8) served as the backdrop for India's first ever RedBull Reign 3x3 National Finals, held at Indian Gymkhana, Matunga.
A late noon start was overseen by the MC who spouted off tidbits of information over classic hip-hop beats played by the DJ decked and ready at the far side of the court. Suffice to say the whole setup had a Blacktop-like (for fans of the popular NBA 2K video games) vibe with a competitive edge.
Anybody who loves playing basketball can easily relate to the simple format of the 3x3 and the non-stop action that ensued once the Finals tipped off.
A GIST OF THINGS
Let's set the stage, shall we?
If the latter stages were all about teams holding their nerve, the first round was all about stamina. Granted, the participants were a bevy of uber-fit athletes, but the Indian summer is a stern test for even the fittest. And nothing says a gruelling test like a round robin format to kick things off. Every team played three others (from their respective groups) in quick succession to determine progress to the next round.
MORE: Results from the RedBull Reign India National Finals
The tournament was not short on talent, which was clearly evident in the quality of play. From FIBA U-18 Asian Championship standouts (Pratyanshu Tomar) to FIBA 3x3 Hyderabad Masters 2018 participants (Lalrina Renthlei), to the nation's top-ranked 3x3 player (Dhruv Barman), to national team star Amritpal Singh, the field was clearly loaded with fantastic players.
A TREAT FOR VIEWERS
Probably the most rewarding and engaging aspect of the whole tournament and gateway for 3x3 basketball as a whole was the relentless nature of the action. The whole format reels the audience in. Take, for instance, the fact that the ball is live at all times.
This means that the game skips a major hurdle in the lengthier, original format - too many breaks!
With the MC amping up the hype train as the tournament progressed from Round 1 to 2, the teams clearly stepped up the level of play. Given the live action on both sides of the court, one was hard pressed to pick which game to focus on.
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India 🇮🇳 is a baller ⛹️♀️ country !!!! The national final in Mumbai was unreal! Special thanks to the team @redbullindia and @pursuitindia ❤️! Also to @overtimeind, see you guys next year. Team Northern Spartans advanced to the World Final in Canada 🇨🇦. . . . . . . . @redbullcanada #worldchamp #redbullreign #roadtotoronto #india @ebanhyams #baaketball #mumbai #gate #dunk #redbull #makeitreign #streetball #baller #unreal
The round was highlighted by a couple of buzzer beaters that drew quite the applause from the crowds.
A point of note was the level of shooting from deep, which was at quite a high level, desperation heaves aside.
The 3x3 format has had a presence in the country for a short few years now and these players have clearly adapted to it, specifically having good shooting from the three-point line is a must-have skill.
The tournament certainly got off to a great start with its inaugural edition in the country.
One possible area that the organisers could look at doing better is providing better access to information regarding each game, like individual scores or landmark numbers and game scores, in general, to the fans. To get this information, one had to head to the two scorers table every single time, and as audiences grow in the coming years, that simply cannot stand as the norm.
THE BIG TAKEAWAY
In what was a summation of the tournament as a whole, the final game of the tournament was a grit-and-grind affair highlighted by some excellent interplay and high level of shot making.
Ultimately the Northern Spartans defeated Drop Step to be crowned the first-ever Red Bull Reign National Champions.
They have the privilege of representing India on the international stage at the global finals in Toronto, expected to be held this August and includes an impressive prize money of $10,000.
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It was hot in Mumbai, India but players and teams from all over the country showed up and performed🔥🔥🔥. Here's the highlights from yesterday's National Final💪💪💪 Special thanks to @redbullindia @pursuitindia @overtimeind and @overtimeishu . . . . . #worldchamp #redbullreign #roadtotoronto #india #final #basketball #makeitreign #redbull #redbullibdia #ballislife #cantstopwontstop #dunks #baller #thankyou #canada
A highlight of the tournament was the sheer effort and frenetic pace at which all the games were played. Every team came to play. This was not an easygoing saunter in the park for a shootaround. Another key thing of note at the tournament was the level of competitiveness.
No one team could claim a definitively higher chance of winning. It was encouraging to see that there is so much talent spread across the country and the fierce and balanced level of competition.
From buzzer beaters to the in-vogue shooting from deep, the tournament showcased it all.
RedBull Reign made the most compelling argument yet for the country to consider 3x3 a viable variant of basketball to focus on, especially given its induction in the near future as an Olympic sport.