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FIBA: Turning 3x3 basketball into an Olympic sport

3x3 basketball, where teams play three a side into one hoop, gets more popular every year - especially among younger players, with 15-19 being a particularly strong demography. We helped FIBA to ride this groundswell of popularity into the Olympics and create a global tech infrastructure accessible to everyone from pro athletes and Olympians to ardent amateurs as well as partners and other stakeholders.

The challenge

FIBA’s goal was to make 3x3 into an Olympic sport. Spontaneous grassroots action had to find a more organised form and be directed towards creating a steady rise in the sport's global popularity. Rules had to be standardised. It’s a truism that the first half hour of any 3x3 pickup game is generally spent arguing about rules…

FIBA wanted to keep the threshold for getting involved in 3x3 basketball as low as possible, keeping the sport’s fun and spontaneous nature intact.

Outcomes and impact

  • Supporting the drive to 2021 Olympics from nothing in 8 years

  • Real-time courtside applications collect data from 1000s games every day

  • The player registration ecosystem serves 1.5 million players worldwide

  • Delivering real-time data for FIBA partners from any game they need

What we did

FIBA needed to provide everything a player needs to make the sport a part of the ebb and flow of life - for pros, Olympians and amateurs alike. Futurice started by going where the players are - courtside. As 3x3 was still a relatively new sport, the organizers and the players needed tools and information to take the sport to a new level. We started by working on the mobile-first app created to really answer the players’ needs: where and when the games are, what was the score, what is my ranking.

While the mobile app was getting ready for launch, we also focused on solutions for 3x3 organizers. As this was a new sport, there were no ready-made products for keeping score or time, much less shot-clocks and solutions for statistics. We had to enable modern web-based applications that work in remote places - the internet connection may be weak but the scenery is often amazing! Imagine playing basketball on the island of Alcatraz, in the desert or in the jungle. Wherever the game is played, scores, stats and data can be delivered in real-time to FIBA and their partners.

After the application was launched, we raised the sport’s web services to the same level and built a totally new www.fiba3x3.com – a one-stop place for players to find events around the world, register to tournaments, follow your and your friends advances in the ranking system and more; for fans to find information about their favorite players and teams; and to generally offer the services and metrics expected of an Olympic sport.

When developing the platform, ways of working had a huge impact and we focused on minimizing repetitive non-value creating activities by automating all we could, including build, testing and deployment pipeline for all services (frontends, backends, microservices and support systems). A highly sophisticated and comprehensive monitoring and metrics system was created for preemptive fault handling and to give FIBA the full control of the platform.

Throughout, we focused on reliability, security, best-practices technology, usability and accessibility. The current platform is fully version controlled, with infrastructure managed via GitHub, Terraform and Azure DevOps Pipelines.

FIBA 3x3 Scores application

  • A progressive web application that synchronizes in real-time across multiple devices.
  • Enables table officials who manage the 3x3 event courtside, from running the game clock to recording the game score.
  • Collects data in real-time and streams to FIBA partners via a cloud API to enable TV feed, betting and live scores.
  • Run the scoreboard presenting game data to the audience and referee such as scores, fouls, game clock.
  • Allows statisticians to collect various game statistics during a game for detailed statistical analysis.
  • Integrates to 3rd party game clock and shot clock displays.
  • Ball possession tracking on a team basis
  • Offline capability, ensuring that no data is lost if the network becomes unavailable on the venue, and performing a reliable data synchronization once the connection is restored.
  • Stack: React and Typescript, RxJS, Pouch/CouchDB, Heroku, AWS.

FIBA 3x3.com

  • All things 3x3, from basic rules all the way to the Olympics.
  • Fans can track the official 3x3 World Tour events to follow their favorite teams on the way to the Olympics.
  • News and media platform for FIBA to communicate about 3x3 events, players, history of the sport.
  • Mobile optimized, accessible and statically generated website for increased performance.
  • Stack: React Typescript with Contentful running on a Terraform-managed AWS + Heroku infrastructure

FIBA 3x3 Play

  • The player, event and organizer portal for FIBA 3x3
  • Event organizers can manage 3x3 events all over the world.
  • Players can make a ranked player profile, gather a team then find an event and take part in epic 3x3 games
  • Fans can follow their favorite players, see their activity, ranking, stats, social media, etc.
  • Stack: Single Page Application built with React. Using Contentful and FIBA back-end systems. Running on a Terraform-managed AWS + Heroku infrastructure

FIBA 3x3 Venue server

  • As 3x3 games can be played anywhere, not all venues have a good internet connection. The FIBA 3x3 Venue Server provides a local, offline ‘cloud’ for the FIBA 3x3 Scores applications that runs on different platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac) using the Electron framework.
  • This local environment synchronizes with the FIBA cloud when the internet is available.
  • Stack: Electron, React and Typescript, RxJS, AWS.

A 3x3 Schedules application

  • Graphical way for the organizers to schedule an event
  • Organizers can define the game format and define pools and KO rounds
  • Stack: React and Typescript, RxJS, Heroku, AWS.

Why it matters

3x3 basketball made it to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics! FIBA has full control with state of the art web and mobile presence for players and event organizers both FIBA internal and external.

The fiba3x3.com website and the courtside progressive web apps are used in over 140 countries, so it's a true global platform that players can access anywhere. By providing a more structured approach to the game, taking FIBA to where the action is and bringing the global community of players together, the full suite of service and tools FIBA has helps them raise the profile of the sport and build the groundswell that will continue to take the Olympics by storm.

This is just the beginning. The platform is being developed on a continuous basis and the process is very responsive to the needs of players and event organisers.

About FIBA

FIBA is the world governing body for basketball, formed by 215 independent national associations from all over the world. The International Olympic Committee recognises FIBA as the sole competent authority on basketball.

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