Tomas Zanzottera, part of the Argentine team that participated in the first Youth Olympic Games eight years ago, remembered the value of having been part of the world’s biggest multisport competition for young high performance athletes.
“Buenos Aires 2018 is going to be very nice. And the 3x3 basketball will be something not to miss. There are going to be many games, a lot of competition. The games are very dynamic and entertaining. People are going to enjoy it".
Basketball changed in 2010. The appearance of a new format in the Youth Olympic Game programme – 3x3 basketball – sparked an exponential growth of the discipline all over the planet and created many fans thanks to its dynamic and fast pace.
Tomas Zanzottera was one of the 59 athletes who was part of Argentina’s delegation at Singapore 2010, the first Youth Olympic Games in history. Together with Carlos Benitez Gavilan, Martin Massone and Juan Rossi, he played the tournament as part of a 3x3 basketball team.
“It was a great experience, one of the best I’ve ever had. The Olympic spirit is incredible and the truth is that Singapore organised a beautiful Games”, said the player from the Obras Sanitarias Club in Buenos Aires, which is part of the National League, Argentina’s elite basketball tournament.
“We had a great time, both at the Youth Olympic Village with Argentines from other disciplines as well as in our same competition”, he added.
That experience was unique for Zanzottera. At just 16 years old he was chosen to represent his country on the world stage.
“We did really well at the sport level. We had a good team and we were eliminated by Greece, a difficult rival that played really well. I came home with great memories”, remembered Zanzottera, who was born in 1993 in Pergamino, a city in the province of Buenos Aires.
Argentina had an auspicious debut in Olympic 3x3 basketball: they finished in seventh place, with five wins and two losses. In the first round the Argentine team beat Panama (27-16), Iran (24-21), Egypt (30-24) and Lithuania (31-27).
In the elimination round the team lost in a close game against Greece (24-25) which forced Argentina to play for fifth place. In the requalifying round it lost against Israel (22-33) and finished its participation at Singapore 2010 with an impressive triumph against Spain (23-13).
“I think that 3x3 is an excellent format. It’s a version of the game that’s very dynamic, intense and demands a lot of energy. It’s different and very fun, I think it fits well in the Youth Olympic Games”, explained the shooting guard, who measures in at 1.90 metres tall (6'2") and is known for his speed and power when it’s time to attack the hoop.
Perhaps Zanzottera’s words are fundamental in understanding the immense growth of 3x3 basketball, which received great news last June when the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board announced that the discipline would be part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to “increase women’s participation and urban competitions to attract youth interest”.
For 3x3 basketball to be included on the programme at the Olympic Games, a lot had to do with having the discipline at the Youth Olympic Games.
“There are many differences in the traditional format. I think that the 3x3 version requires dynamic players with lots of one on one experience, athletic players who can be running continuously and who can switch from defence to offense quickly”, explained the basketball player.
“With respect to the game itself, it’s a lot more disorganised and much more about getting one on one opportunities, a pass and a shot. In the traditional five on five, on the other hand, it’s more tactical and more schematic”, added the athlete who wore the number two jersey during his time at Singapore 2010.
Zanzottera had an unforgettable experience at the first Youth Olympic Games eight years ago. And while he currently plays traditional basketball, he’ll never forgot those days in Singapore while he was part of a historic moment for 3x3 basketball.
“Buenos Aires 2018 is going to be very nice. And the 3x3 basketball will be something not to miss. There are going to be many games, a lot of competition. The games are very dynamic and entertaining. People are going to enjoy it. Argentines like that, the competition and the dynamism of the tournament. The public and the players are going to enjoy a special environment”, concluded Zanzottera.
At Buenos Aires 2018, 3x3 basketball will have an equal number of men (80) and women (80) competing. There will be four competitions to watch in the Urban Park, located in Puerto Madero. In addition to the team tournaments, the men will participate in a dunk tournament and the women will play a shoot-out contest.