The new 3×3 basketball season will start in Qatar on Friday with the first games at the Doha Masters tournament.
The tournament, that will take place on march 26th-27th, will mark the beginning of the 10th FIBA World Tour season, and it will also have a team from Lithuania, Šakiai „Gulbelė“. Two Balkan teams – Liman (Serbia) and Piran (Slovenia) – together with Šakiai will finish up the pool A.
„All the best teams in the world come to the Masters tournaments, there is no time to relax. This is a group of death because both teams play a physical, focused and smart game. A faster and non-methodical game, such as the one played by New York Harlem, is more convenient for us“, – Dainius Novickas shared his thoughts about the group stage.
„Gulbelė“ welcomes the new season by making roster adjustments due to Marijus Užupis’ knee injury. He will be replaced by Darius Tarvydas, who has been recognized as the best 3×3 basketball player of the country in 2020. He will join the usual Gulbele team – Aurelijus Pukelis, Šarūnas Vingelis and Paulius Beliavičius.
„After the 3×3 national team camp it was a bit easier, we got to know each other, we played a bit together,“ – D. Tarvydas spoke about the adaptation to the new team. – And here we come without training. While we were here we managed to play, we saw what combinations we would use, how we would play in defence. On the other hand, we know each other well because we played more than once. We all know our strengths and weaknesses.”
Although it has not been announced yet how many Masters tournaments will take place in the new season, it is expected to see at least a few Lithuanian teams. Sometimes it will be necessary to win tickets to these tournaments in the Challenger series tournaments, but it will also be possible to qualify for masters tournaments during the competitions that will take place in Lithuania.
„There is a desire and aspiration for the three teams to represent Lithuania in the „Masters“ and „Challenger“ tournaments and collect points, be as successful as possible“, – said Rolandas Skaisgirys, the founder of the 3×3 basketball association. – I am talking about three teams without Utena, because it goes without saying – they are already an elite team. A lot of work awaits. We will have invitations, but sometimes we will have to win them. We will travel around the world – including the Asia and American continents.
World-class tournaments involving national team candidates are considered part of the preparation for the Olympic qualifiers. On the May 26th-31st Lithuanians will compete in Graz (Austria) for the right to play in 2020 Olympic games, and in the case of success Lithuanian 3×3 team, on the July 24th-29th, will combat at the Tokyo Olympics games.
The Lithuanian 3×3 Championship will start before this tournament, and the Hoptrans 3×3 tournament games are planned for the second year in a row. Tickets to top international tournaments will also be distributed in these tournaments.
This season, youngsters will also have the opportunity to represent Lithuania. The country’s U21 and U23 teams will compete in Nation League stages.
The 2021 European 3×3 Basketball Championship is scheduled for September. The Lithuanian national team in Hungary, formed on the basis of Gulbelė team, won bronze medals in the tournament back in 2019.