The walls are closing. The clock is turning. The ball is thrown across the field at the speed of light. Gareth Murray has been playing professional basketball for nearly 20 years, but never like that.
Scotland began its qualification campaign for this summer’s Commonwealth Games today, but instead of the 5v5 format that Murray spent 37 years perfecting, the 3v3 format is included in the Birmingham 2022 schedule.
Played with a single half-field goal, lasting 10 minutes per 3-on-3 game or up to 21, whichever comes first, the 24-second clock must be taken within 12 seconds of taking the game clock. 24 seconds by a team, and no time – it is allowed to go out. .
It’s an exciting and dynamic version of the sport, and Murray admits that while you wouldn’t expect someone in their thirties to be a fan of such a fast-paced basketball brand, they quickly learned to love it.
And being a Scottish player-manager, a role he has at Glasgow Rocks, is a much easier prospect than he’s used to in 3v3.
“It’s a completely different game than 5v5, but I like it,” he says. “You might think a fast 37-year-old wouldn’t suit me, but it was great.
“Possession is not so much, you have to make very quick decisions and I like that: you can shoot as soon as you have the ball.
“Playing 5v5 in club basketball is a lot harder being a player-manager – 3v3 is so much easier when you have so many more players to manage.
“There will be four guys on the team, including me, so I hope it will be a lot easier for Glasgow Rocks than balancing everything.”
Murray takes the lead of the four-man Scottish squad for the qualifying tournament at the Inverclyde National Sports District headquarters, where the hosts will face Wales and Northern Ireland, while the trio are fighting for a vacancy at the Commonwealth Games this summer.
This qualifying tournament has been suspended since December due to Covid restrictions and Murray is quietly confident in his team’s luck despite being new to 3v3 gameplay.
“The December date was a bit of a constraint for us to be ready because we hadn’t really trained, but this time we trained a little and now I’m much more confident,” he says.
“I would be very confident if 5v5 were a competition, but 3v3 is a new competition so it’s harder to know.
“I think we’re really talented and we understand well enough to deserve to play 3v3 basketball, but that’s why I’m thrilled; It is a really good chance to play the Commonwealth Games.
For Murray personally, reaching Birmingham in 2022 will be quite a milestone. After making his Commonwealth Games debut in 2006, he had to wait until 2018 as basketball was removed from the Games schedule and he is looking forward to scoring a hat-trick this summer.
“It would be huge to be in other games,” he said. “I was just a teenager in 2006, I was only 21, and when 2018 came around I thought I’d try to hold on to it. I was 33 at the time, so talking about my third year now is really amazing.
“Another important thing is that I have been given the task of coaching Scotland which is a huge success and something I am very excited about.”
With 3v3 being played so rarely on the world stage, Murray is reluctant to guess what his chances will be in Birmingham 2022, assuming Scotland can safely enter qualifiers this week.
While the 5v5 squad came close to winning the playoffs for the bronze medal four years ago, doing better this summer is, unsurprisingly, a dream.
But for now, Murray’s full focus is firmly on the impending war with Wales and Northern Ireland.
“There were mixed feelings in 2018 because no one expected us to go that far: at first we were the only ones who really believed in ourselves, but then people started getting on board when they realized we had a chance to win a medal.
“It will be difficult to replicate everything that happened on the Gold Coast and for a lot of the guys it was kind of a last race and so we all put absolutely everything into it.
“Now, with the arrival of 3v3, smaller countries definitely have a better chance of winning medals, so we’ll have to get there first and see what happens next.”
The women’s team will also compete in Inverclyde this week, while the men’s and women’s wheelchair qualifiers will take place next week.
Source: Herald Scotland
Jason Jack is an experienced technology journalist and author at The Nation View. With a background in computer science and engineering, he has a deep understanding of the latest technology trends and developments. He writes about a wide range of technology topics, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, software development, and cybersecurity.