The men’s team are looking to grab a bronze while the women’s team, their first victory 

Basketball: The target for the upcoming 3×3 basketball competition at the 5th Asian Beach Games in Vietnam next month is set.

The men’s team, if everything goes as planned, is all set to compete for the bronze medal and the women’s team to achieve their first victory in this new format of the game.

The four-men and four-women team have been undergoing vigorous practise sessions for the past six months. This is by far the longest training session provided to a national team before a major international competition.

The head coach of the two teams, Sonam Tashi said that unlike in the past, the information on the 3×3 competition was made known to the federation beforehand, which is why the players got maximum training sessions.

The selection for the competition began in February. From over a hundred  basketball enthusiasts who came for the selection, only eight players were selected. Drukdra Penjore, Galden Chophel, Kesang Phuntsho and Rinchen Dorji will form the men’s team. While the first women’s 3×3 team will have Dechen Wangmo, Kinley Bidha, Namzay Kumutha and Sangay Wangmo.

The selections were also based on a strategy that was planned out by the coach for the competition. The men’s team were selected based on speed and agility of the players while sharpshooters made it into the women’s team.

Former Korean coach, Kim Kiyong, who helped Bhutan win its first 3×3 basketball victory against Maldives in 2014 is also providing his assistance to the two teams. With over 25 years of experience, the Korean coach will be assisting Sonam Tashi at the Asian Beach Games.

Along with experience, coach Sonam Tashi has added the spirit of youth to his teams by picking two young up-coming players on the team.

The skipper of the men’s team, Rinchen Dorji said that he is expecting a better result from the last 3×3 competitions in which Bhutan took part. “With the amount of practise we are having, we should be winning a couple of games this time.”

The captain added that over the six months, the players have built a strong sense of bonding and coordination, which is essential for any team to succeed.

The women’s captain, Namzay Kumutha is excited for their first 3×3 basketball competition. “We don’t really know what to expect since this will be our first time playing this format,” she said. “Therefore, it is up to us to set a benchmark for the future women basketball in the country.”

Although 3×3 is a new concept of basketball to the team, the skipper said that it is more engaging then a normal 5-on-5-basketball game. “It is both individual as well as a team game. So far it has been a learning experience for all of us and we are growing as a team by the day.”

In 3×3 basketball, the first team to score 21 points or possess a higher score at the end of 10 minutes wins the game. Unlike full court basketball, each basket scored within the three-point line is a point in 3×3 basketball, while beyond the arc is two points.

Bhutan has taken part in several 3×3 basketball competitions but the last Asian Beach Games being held in Phuket, Thailand in 2014 is considered  the country’s most successful performance till date.

Younten Tshedup