Hoops are delighted to be sponsoring Ball Out this summer, the number one 3×3 basketball tournament in the country. We spoke to founder and former international baller Julius Joseph to find out a little more about his company.
The battle between sports for larger slices of the public attention pie has been intensifying rapidly in recent years, and with television markets evermore crucial for growth that is only going to continue.
Basketball is listed by some sources as the second-most followed sport on the planet. Despite this, it registers way down on similar lists for the United Kingdom.
The professional game is attempting to spread its influence, with the British Basketball League securing a deal with BBC Sport to showcase the 2016/17 season live online.
But not only is it a long way from challenging the supremacy of Britain’s traditional favourites of football, cricket and rugby, it may not even be making ground at the same rate as other US imports such as American Football.
It was great to meet up with Julius from @balloutuk last night to talk about the story behind the 3×3 Tournament, his passion for basketball and how Hoops can collaborate and help the community here in UK. ✌️? _ ✍️ Look out for a blog post about it later next week. Will be well worth a read! _ ° ° ° ° #hoops #JumpIn #GetInvolved #getactive #app #tech #active #basketball #ballislife #collaboration #sponsorship #community #support #tech #startup #teamwork #team #teamsports #interview #blog #sports #uk #London #manchester #passion #motivation #inspiration #getinspired
“Something new, something different”
One man at the forefront of the fight to change that is former England and Great Britain international Julius Joseph.
The 41-year-old made his name playing in the BBL and abroad, but it is a completely different format of the sport in which he is now working.
Ball Out, his company, has grown from coaching and organising tournaments among youngsters in the London boroughs to hosting an International Basketball Federation (FIBA)-regulated 3×3 competition, the winners of which progress to FIBA’s World Tour.
“It’s a new idea, so it’s something that I take pride in pioneering throughout the country and trying to bring a new form of basketball forward,” he told Hoops.
“Plus it’s in the off-season, in the summer – what’s going on with basketball in the summer at the minute?
“We’re bringing something new and something different – it’s maybe a bit of a merger between 5×5 and street basketball, which is why I’m excited by it.
“You still have that flair – we have guys playing who have great flair for the game and all the tricky skills but they still play well within the team.
“So you need that combination of the two. Flair is great, but you have to put the ball in the basket.”
“The style makes a huge difference”
With two teams of three players playing on half court – using only one basket – Joseph is hopeful that Ball Out’s format can not only capture the public’s imagination, but prove a more accessible option for people starting the sport too.
But for those new to basketball as a whole, how much of a difference to the playing experience does the dropping of two players entail?
“The style of play really makes a huge difference,” said Joseph.
“When you play 5×5, if I go past somebody, there’s a defender there who can help. Then if that defender needs help, someone else can come across. By the time you’ve done all that, you should be alright.
“In 3×3 it’s more like ‘ah I need help, oh wait he’s scored’.
“If you play well as a team, good strategic basketball you’ll do well, and I learnt that from watching the top world tour teams last year. They run sets that are unguardable for 3×3 – there’s just not enough defenders!
“It’s about playing well together, regardless of individual attributes because if you don’t play well as a team, a good strategy will undermine you.”
Keeping the learning in British basketball
But Ball Out is far from a testing ground for those yet to fall in love with the sport.
The connection through FIBA to the World Tour – winners of which pick up a £10,000 paycheck – ensure that the standard of the elite men’s tournament is impressively high.
The inaugural competition in 2016 boasted professional players from both Britain and the continent.
And though the winners exited the World Tour at the first stage, they avoided getting “smoked or pounded” by the tournament top seeds.
But Joseph’s desire to improve the game in his country has seen him make changes to this year’s competition.
“I’m not going to have any international teams coming in this year because I want to grow the game here,” he said.
“That isn’t going to happen if you have national teams from the continent coming over with stacked teams, beating up on our guys here, taking the world tour spot then you don’t hear from them until next year.
“This way I can contact the winners and be like ‘yo, how was it, did you enjoy yourself, did you have a good time’ and we keep that learning within British Basketball.”
We've got an exciting partnership with @BallOutUK to announce ?
— Hoops Connect (@Hoops_App) February 1, 2017
“We think there’s a market for it”
With the competition only in its second year it is hard to judge just how influential Ball Out could be on the British basketball scene.
But with names such as Wilson and Footlocker already signed up as sponsors – and Red Bull playing a low key role in this year’s tournament as well – it’s fair to say that people are seeing the potential.
“With traditional basketball you need five guys and subs if you want to play, in 3×3 you need three and that’s it, so it’s easy to bring people together and to get out and play,” said Joseph.
“You would think there would be a market for it.
“Last year we had BBL players, and a guy who played for the Great Britain under-23s, so the interest is there.
“This year is a lot easier, people know about us and have their eye out for us rather than being needed to be told about us.
“Last year, I’m obviously biased, but it was a good tournament and a lot of people enjoyed themselves.”
Hopefully, that will be the case for years to come.
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