SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico will host a qualifying round for the 3×3 basketball tournament that has become part of the FIBA World Cup.
It’s actually the first-ever qualifier event for this particular subset of FIBA basketball. It will take place from May 4th to 5th.
The qualifier will consist of eight teams each on the men’s and women’s sides. Specifically, Puerto Rico and the top seven teams on each side (by FIBA 3×3 Federation rankings) that have not yet qualified for the FIBA 3×3 World Cup.
FIBA 3×3 is still relatively new, but it appears to be catching on quickly. Basketball in general is gaining international popularity seemingly with each passing year, and the addition of 3×3 events to major competitions essentially makes the sport more accessible.
The idea is for this to catch on as a legitimate sport unto itself, not only for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, but for the Tokyo Olympics next year as well.
This doesn’t mean we should get carried away with its popularity. It is, as mentioned, still new. And during the May qualifiers specifically, most who enjoy the sport will have their focus turned elsewhere, on the NBA playoffs.
As it happens, the postseason is shaping up to be particularly interesting. It already had the unusual wrinkle of LeBron James not participating for the first time in more than a decade.
And in the first round fans saw the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard hit one of the best shots in playoff history.
On top of these little dramas, the outlook for the NBA Finals is about as dynamic and unpredictable as it’s been in years.
The Houston Rockets are a viable challenge to the back-to-back champion Golden State Warriors, and rising teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers are seen as legitimate contenders.
All of this adds up to a lot of intrigue that’s going to keep basketball fans’ eyes glued to the NBA through May, rather than on something like FIBA 3×3 qualifiers.
Even with this understood though, the upcoming FIBA 3×3 World Cup qualifiers mark an excellent opportunity not just for the basketball community, but for San Juan and Puerto Rico as a whole.
It is essentially a good development for the territory from a business and international image perspective, given that many around the world still look at Puerto Rico in the context of the devastation Hurricane Maria wreaked upon it.
This devastation was very real, and it remains true that entire communities in Puerto Rico have yet to be made whole. However, it’s also been made clear that San Juan is getting back to normal, as well as that travelers from abroad can help matters.
It’s said that the tourism industry in San Juan is “committed to continue sharing the beauty” of Puerto Rico, and there’s at least some logic to the idea that the economic boost that comes from tourism can go a long way toward the broader recovery act.
This makes the FIBA event in early May a good thing for the city of San Juan and the U.S. commonwealth as a whole, whether or not it will ultimately attract much in the way of international basketball fans’ attention.
By holding these qualifiers in San Juan, FIBA is ensuring that a significant international crowd of players, coaches, staffs, and some fans will be in town for a few days at least, which ultimately has several benefits.
It will directly result in some tourism income; it sets Puerto Rico up as a potential host for future events; and most important of all, it will demonstrate to the world that San Juan is once again open for business.