3x3 (pronounced 3 on 3), previously known as FIBA 33, is a formalized version of three-on-three basketball. It is a form of the game initially developed on inner-city asphalt outdoor courts in the United States. With over 250 million players worldwide and among the most played recreational sports in the world, 3x3 will become a key motor for the growth of basketball. This variant of the sport is currently being promoted by the sport's worldwide governing body, FIBA, which began developing it in 2007. The format was first tested at the 2007 Asian Indoor Games in Macau, introduced at international level at the 2009 Asian Youth Games in Singapore, and made its worldwide competitive debut at the 2010 Youth Olympics, also in Singapore.
FIBA released its official rules for FIBA 3x3 on June 2, 2010 as a supplement to its official basketball rules. The rules state that regular FIBA rules apply to all situations not specifically addressed in the FIBA 3x3 rules. The rules have since been revised several times, with the current set having been published in early 2014..
Under the 2014 rules, the departures from regular full-court basketball are as follows:
- Each team consists of four players, of whom three are on the court at any given time, plus one coach.
- The game is played on half of a FIBA regulation court, with one basket.
- A size 6 basketball (circumference of 727–734 mm/28.5–29.0 in) is used for all divisions, including men's competitions. This is the standard size for women's basketball, and smaller than the size 7 standard (749–780 mm/29.5–30.7 in) used in the full-court men's game.
- A jump ball is not used to start the game. Instead, a coin toss is held immediately before the game. The winning team can choose to take possession of the ball at the start of the game, or take the first possession of a potential overtime period.
- There are no jump balls at any time in the game; neither is there an alternating possession rule. In any held ball situation, the defensive team is granted possession.
- Instead of the three officials used in full-court basketball, one referee and two time/score keepers are mandatory. A second referee can be used at the discretion of event organizers.
- Every successful shot inside the arc is awarded one (1) point, while every successful shot behind the arc is awarded two (2) points.
- The game is a single period of 10 minutes. The winner is the first team to score 21 or more points. If neither team reaches 21 points at the end of regulation, the team with the highest score wins, as in regular basketball. A tie in regulation leads to an untimed overtime period, which ends once either team has scored 2 points in overtime. Note that if a game is tied 20–20 at the end of regulation, reaching 21 does not end the game.
- Game play starts with the defensive team exchanging the ball with the offensive team behind the arc. This exchange is also used to restart the game from any dead ball situation. If a foul is committed that results in the non-fouling team retaining possession—i.e., a technical or "unsportsmanlike" foul (the latter essentially the same as the "flagrant foul" of North American rule sets)—the non-fouling team will receive the exchange.
- A 12-second shot clock is used.
- If the defense gains possession of the ball within the two-point area, either by a steal or rebound, the team must move the ball behind the three-point arc before being allowed to take a shot.
- After a made basket or free throw (except for technical or unsportsmanlike fouls), play restarts with a player from the non-scoring team taking the ball directly under the basket and then dribbling or passing it to a point behind the arc. The defense is not allowed to play for the ball inside the block/charge semicircle under the basket.
- The only common feature between the substitution procedure in full-court and 3x3 is that it can occur only in a dead ball situation. in 3x3, a substitute can only enter from behind the end line opposite the basket, and the substitution becomes official once the player leaving the game has made physical contact with the substitute. Unlike the full-court game, no action from referees or table officials is required.
- Dunking is not permitted unless the court has approved breakaway rims.
- Each team is allowed one timeout. (The officials may still stop the game in case of player injury or other dangerous situation, as in the standard FIBA rules.)
- Individual personal foul counts are not kept—in other words, players cannot be disqualified on the basis of personal fouls. However, a player who commits two unsportsmanlike fouls is disqualified.
- All personal fouls that would result in free throws in a full-length game are awarded one free throw, with the exceptions of fouls committed on an unsuccessful shot from behind the arc, which receive two free throws, and fouls in a penalty situation (see below). Technical fouls (including unsportsmanlike fouls) result in two free throws plus possession of the ball, as in the standard full-court game.
- A team is in a penalty foul situation on its seventh foul; the non-fouling team then receives two free throws. The eighth and ninth team fouls also result in two free throws. All team fouls after the ninth are treated as technical fouls (two free throws plus possession). Since the main FIBA rules apply unless specifically addressed in the FIBA 3x3 rules, overtime is considered an extension of regulation for purposes of the foul penalty.
FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann has stated that the rules are a work in progress, but that any changes would not compromise the spirit of street 3-on-3. One early change from the original rules was in the number of periods; in the first test event, games were conducted in three 5-minute periods. The 2010 rules featured two 5-minute periods instead of today's single 10-minute period. Most significantly, the original game had a scoring system much closer to that of the standard full-court game (baskets worth either 2 or 3 points, free throws worth 1), with the game ending by rule once a team reached 33 or more points at any time during regulation. Also, the original rule set had timed overtime periods, with the game ending if one team was ahead at the end of an overtime, or if either team reached 33 or more points during an overtime.
Other major changes from the initial rules involve game restarts and foul counts.
- Originally, after a made basket or free throw, the non-scoring team restarted the game via a throw-in from the sidelines, with the receiver of the throw-in prohibited from shooting. Similarly, the game was restarted after a held ball with a similar throw-in, again with a second pass required before shooting. This rule had changed to the current version by 2013.
- Also in the original rules, when the defensive team gained possession on a rebound or steal, that team was required to move the ball outside the arc and pass before taking a shot. This rule had also changed to the current version by 2013.
- Before 2014, players were disqualified upon committing 4 personal fouls.
- Also before 2014, all team personal fouls after the sixth were awarded one free throw.
The FIBA 3x3 concept was first developed in 2007, with a demonstration competition held in November of that year at the Asian Indoor Games in Macau. Further test events were held in April 2008 in the Dominican Republic and October 2008 in Indonesia. FIBA 3x3 was later contested at the 2009 Asian Youth Games by 19 teams in the boys' tournament and 16 teams in the girls' tournament. All games were held at Anglican High School, Singapore. FIBA 3x3 basketball was the only form of basketball at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics, contested by 20 teams each in the boys' and girls' tournaments. The tournaments were held at the *scape Youth Space, Singapore.
The first FIBA 3x3 Youth World Championship was held in Rimini, Italy in 2011, which was won by New Zealand. The sport is being developed by FIBA sports director Kosta Iliev and is highly tipped to become an Olympic sport as early as 2016. The first senior men's FIBA 3x3 World Championship and senior women's FIBA 3x3 World Championship for Women tournaments were held in Greece, in August of 2012. The second FIBA 3x3 Youth World Championship was held in Spain in 2012, Serbia won the title.
FIBA is also developing a world ranking system for FIBA 3x3 in consultation with technology companies, as well as statistics professors from a university in FIBA's headquarters country of Switzerland. Because FIBA 3x3, as a truncated version of the full game of basketball, has an obvious parallel in beach volleyball, a two-person outdoor variant of volleyball, FIBA is in regular contact with volleyball's governing body, FIVB, to learn about the development of beach volleyball since that discipline's debut at the 1996 Olympics.
FIBA sees FIBA 3x3 as a major vehicle for promotion of the game throughout the world. As Baumann stated in 2008, "The 3-on-3 concept has all the elements and skills required for basketball, it has inspired and will continue to inspire many great players in the future. At the same time, it is the easiest and one of the most effective ways to bring youngsters to basketball, keep them and promote our game. Finally, FIBA 3x3 can and will promote key educational and social values to the next generations." Baumann is also hoping that FIBA 3x3 will be adopted for the Summer Olympics as early as 2016 or 2020.
- Beach volleyball
- Gus Macker, 3x3 tournaments held in the United States since 1974
- Limited overs cricket, cricket matches of limited duration, though with full-sized teams
- Mario Hoops 3-on-3, a video game variant for the Nintendo DS featuring characters from the Mario and Final Fantasy franchises
- Rugby sevens, a rugby union variant with both fewer players and a shorter duration of play
- "3x3 Overview". fiba.com. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- Iran claims gold at FIBA 3 on 3 - fiba.com
- "PR N°13 - Youth Olympic Games: It's Singapore… and it's FIBA 33!" (Press release). International Basketball Federation. 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
- "3-on-3 hoops game set to debut". ESPN.com. Associated Press. August 13, 2010. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
- FIBA (2 June 2010). FIBA 3x3: Official Rules of the Game. Downloadable from the official FIBA site here  (click on the link immediately below "FIBA 3x3 Official Rules").
- "3x3 Rules of the Game". FIBA. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
- "3x3 Rules of the Game". FIBA. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- "3-on-3 basketball might become big time?". ESPN. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
- Press, Associated (2011-12-15). "Olympics FIBA hopes to see 3-on-3 basketball in Olympics". Universal Sports. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
- FIBA. "FIBA 3x3 Official Rules".
- Anglican High School. "FIBA 33 (Basketball) Rules". Anglican High School.
- Singaporesports. "Asian Youth Games 2009". Singaporesports.sg.
- Singapore 2010. "2010 Summer Youth Olympics". Singapore 2010. Archived from the original on 2012-05-26.
- FIBA. "Youth Olympic Games: It's Singapore… and it's FIBA 33!". FIBA.com.