PBA forms 14-team 3x3 league

Since the Philippines has a bigger chance of qualifying for the Olympics through 3x3 basketball, the PBA has decided to form a 3x3 league of its own.

The league, which will be independent from its 5-on-5 counterpart, will be introduced in the upcoming season and will be open to everybody.

"The one that suggested this was [Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas presdent] Al Panlilio, in order to elevate the Philippines' rankings. The more 3x3, the better for the country," PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said at league's opening press conference on Tuesday.

All 12 PBA teams will field a four-man lineup, with the addition of teams from Mighty Bond and Dunkin' Donuts.

According to PBA Vice Chairman Bobby Rosales of Columbian, there will be no age limits, and there won't be a draft process for the 14 squads. However, the league stipulated that there must only be two Fil-foreigners per squad.

If in case a player decides to join the mother league, he will have to go through the annual Rookie Draft.

The league will run on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday rotation and will follow FIBA rules. Fourteen squads will be divided into two groups of seven teams each. Details of the opening of the 3x3 league are still being finalized, but each team will play 42 elimination games each to qualify to the playoffs.

Once the playoff seedings are set, a total of 14 postseason games per conference will be played, including a best-of-three semis and finals.

A cash prize, which has yet to be determined, will be awarded to the victors.

There is also a plan for a women's division, but it is still pending the approval of the Board of Governors.

Panlilio explained that the 3x3 circuit was a major part of discussions during the PBA's meeting in Milan, Italy last month.

"We did spend a lot of time on 3x3, and we all agreed that it cannot be just a sideshow of the 5-on-5," explained Panlilio, who is also the team governor of Meralco.

Panlilio cited that the 3x3 culture is inherent with the Filipino society already, and will be a cinch if the format goes mainstream.

"In fact, even the FIBA 3x3 head Alex Sanchez said, 'I don't see why you cannot be as good or even better than Mongolia, for example, being no. 2 or no. 3 in the world.' So we just have to play games. We just have to develop the players," he added.

Panlilio also said the 3x3 circuit could produce new basketball superstars who have not been quite as fortunate in 5-on-5.

With the blessing of FIBA, the league will now use the official 3x3 branding, which includes the iconic "infinity" logo. By linking the SBP with the PBA, the fledgling league could now also incur the maximum available points per tournament level.