For many Estonian national teamers who mainly train and compete indoors, the suspensions due to the pandemic have awakened a thirst for competition, which can be quenched by different formats of tournaments held over the summer.
The Estonian basketball landscape is gathering much attention because of a 3x3 streetball series, which had its second stage on Sunday. The largest attraction for the tournaments has been a team named Boft.
Boft, who won the opening stage of the series, is comprised of Estonian National Team players like Martin Paasoja, Jaan Puidet, Joonas Järvelainen, but most notably Rain Veideman of Rakvere Tarvas and Martin Dorbek of Kalev/Cramo.
Since indoors' basketball leagues suffered an unfortunate ending in early spring, streetball has become a good place for players to compete and keep in shape. The second stage was held on Sunday in Rakvere, where once again, Boft took home the win.
"Interest has definitely greater, groups have filled much quicker and the list of players is pretty solid as well. Days are longer and we have to play under four hoops. When one of the youth groups finishes, they leave and another one takes their place. COVID-19 has given us quite a few organizational challenges, but basketball players have a lot of interest," said Reigo Kimmel, head of 3x3 basketball at the Estonian Basketball Association to Vikerraadio.
"We play under FIBA rules, which are also used in higher level competitions. The winner of our series will hopefully continue on the FIBA World Tour at the end of August in Debrecen, Hungary. Hopefully that will be confirmed in the near future," Kimmel said.
He acknowledges that a sports drought has brought great outside interest to the series. "We have started with Estonian teams for now, but foreigners are hungry to come and play. A Swiss team has registered and Latvians and Lithuanians can't wait to participate. The competition will get really tight, especially if they can finally come and play."
"I prefer playing outdoors because it fits the format and atmopshere better. The first round satisfied the need for basketball, now it's just fun to play. It wasn't as easy as we wanted, but we ended up winning," said Martin Dorbek, guard for Kalev/Cramo and the Estonian national team.
What's different in streetball? "Three players on the court and the tempo is much different. Sudden starts, stops, and changes of direction are much more common, since we only play on half-court. The rules favor a faster pace."
"There are two referees and it doesn't go too far, but the game is much more physical. Fouls indoors aren't always fouls here. But that adds to it, the game is more spectacular and emotions can run higher than indoors," Dorbek said.
The next 3x3 streetball round will be played on June 13, Saturday in Viimsi.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste