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USA Basketball 3x3 Leaving Nothing to Chance in 2023

  • Author:
    Ian Kayanja
  • Date:
    Feb 3, 2023

Ever present in the mind of USA Basketball’s 3x3 director Jay Demings is qualifying for the 2024 Olympics. 

The U.S. women qualified for the Tokyo 2020 and won gold, while the men fell short of qualifying for the competition. Demings, who hasn’t forgotten about Tokyo, aspires to have both national teams in Paris next summer

Getting there, however, begins this year with a 2023 calendar that includes competitions like 3X Nationals, the FIBA 3x3 Men’s World Tour, the FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series, a trio of World Cups (senior, U23, U18), a pair of Nations League (U23 and U21), the Pan American Games, the 3x3 AmeriCup and more. Each competition will help the USA, as a federation and its individual athletes, earn points that build toward USA Basketball’s 3x3 Olympic dreams.  

“Olympics, that’s the obvious goal,” Demings said. “Each event, junior events up to all the way up to the senior-level events are important.” 

USA Basketball will put together upward of 20 3x3 teams this year, with a heavy emphasis placed on earning points to help in an Olympic qualification bid. There are currently confirmed 10 women’s teams and nine men’s teams expected to play in nearly 50 competitions. 

Olympic qualification means the U.S. would need to finish top three in the FIBA World Ranking system in total points earned. The cut-off date to earn points is Nov. 1, 2023. 

Players – and federations  earn points by entering FIBA 3x3 competitions throughout the year. 

If, after Nov. 1, the U.S. doesn’t rank in the top three for points earned, there are still two additional ways it can qualify for Paris 2024 via a qualifying tournament of top-ranked federations or a tournament that consists of 2023 zone cup winners and world cup medalists.

But Demings doesn’t want it to come down to a tournament. Instead, he’s looking to use 2023 as a year that will put USA Basketball in the best possible position for 2024. 

“I like our chances because if we don’t qualify, we will still have a shot,” Demings said. “But I don’t think any country wants to be in those tournaments because it comes down to making and missing shots.

“It’s a dual-purpose year. We are trying to get the federation points, we are trying to get the athletes points, and right below that, we are trying to develop chemistry among the players that could be playing together in Paris.” 

Underpinning 3x3 for USA Basketball is a theme of what Demings described as “continued competitiveness.” 

The structure of the 3x3 game prevents the dominance of one team unilaterally. It is what adds excitement to each competition – the uncertainty of what team will appear in a final. What USA Basketball makes sure is certain and sustained is the pre-work, including the hours spent scouting and training. Demings knows a competitive 2023 won't happen by way of magic. So he wants to make sure USA Basketball is creating its own fortune. 

“We don’t want to be lucky that the ball bounced in or didn’t bounce our way,” Demings said. “That’s really the theme of the year, we are going to work to create our own luck,”

The first major 3x3 event will be the USA Basketball 3X Nationals in May (official date and location are TBA). Following 3X Nationals, USA Basketball ventures to Vienna, Austria, for the men’s and women’s 3x3 World Cup from May 30-June 4

June brings the start of its competitive play on the World Tour and Women’s Series. In 2022, the U.S. unveiled its World Tour team, Washington D.C., which joined other independent American teams on the tour circuit. On the Women’s Series, the U.S. enjoyed a successful 2022, winning the Quebec stop and placing third at the Constanta Final. Look for both teams to return in 2023 for more. 

July and August bring about the U21 and U23 Nations League for both the men and the women. This year, another six stops are slated for both teams on the Nations League circuit, in addition to a series for U21 athletes

Late August is when USA Basketball takes on the 3x3 U18 World Cup, where the U.S. women have an opportunity to win a fifth-straight gold medal. 

October offers USA Basketball a chance to compete in the Pan American Games, which take place in Santiago, Chile, and the U23 World Cup. 

The 2023 calendar is bookended with the 3x3 AmeriCup which is considered one of the top 3x3 events in the West in early December. In 2022, the U.S. men – led by 3x3 newcomer Jimmer Fredette, veteran Kareem Maddox and tournament MVP Canyon Barry – repeated as champions, while the women earned a bronze medal. 

As 3x3 continues to build, playing in numerous competitions in 2023, Demings – who has seen the sport’s rise in the States and is eager to see USA Basketball at the Olympics again – wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“Last year, our teams combined to play about 120 games,” he said. “This year, we think that number may double potentially. That’s good. We are set up to have some success and we are poised to have a great 2023.”   


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