GENEVA (3x3) - The first full season of FIBA 3x3 drew to a close on Sunday following Serbia's heart-stopping overtime win against the USA in the Final of the Boys Tournament at the U18 World Championships, presented by Nike.
The tournament, played in the city of Alcobendas on the outskirts of Madrid, was the last of nine official FIBA 3x3 tournaments - six World Tour events, the Senior and U18 World Championships and the first-ever World University Championships - held in 2012.
As he looked back on the three-day event, FIBA 3x3 Director Kosta Iliev could not have been happier with the way things ended.
"It was wonderful. In the beginning it was very difficult when we had rain (the first two days) and had to move indoors, but the Finals on Sunday were incredible. We had excellent weather and very exciting games," he said.
"The Boys Final had everything - overtime, dunks, two-pointers, great suspense. I think everybody here in the venue and all who watched this live online enjoyed it as much as we did. This was an excellent way to finish the first full season of FIBA 3x3."
With the weather not cooperating on Friday and Saturday, the tournament had to be moved indoors but that was made to work flawlessly thanks to the efforts of the local organisers and Iliev was quick to pay tribute to them.
"We're very happy that we succeeded in transforming the programme over the first two days when it rained. We went from six courts outdoors to six courts indoors. I have to say a big thank you to the Spanish Federation and the Local Organising Committee who made sure we were able to stick to the programme," he explained.
Pablo Cabello, 3x3 Product Manager for the Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB) who was in charge of the local organisation, talked about what made Alcobendas the perfect backdrop for the tournament.
"We chose the José Caballero Sports Centre because it offers everything we need. When we had to go to plan B, we had the indoor courts right there close to the outdoor venue. Also, Alcobendas is really important because we (FEB) collaborate with them on so many things," he said.
"Sunday was really good as we got to use this incredible (outdoor) venue and saw some great games."
Iliev knew the tournament was a resounding success when he saw the reaction of those who took part - players, heads of delegations, volunteers - on Sunday.
"It's a very good feeling when you finish the tournament that people are happy regardless of who wins or loses the games. They're very enthusiastic about FIBA 3x3, they're pushing and coming every day with ideas for new events," he recalled.
Looking ahead to the future of 3x3, Iliev sees a lot of reasons to be optimist that it will grow from strength to strength.
"We're very positive. We believe that we will be better next year," he said.
"I think the global system of competition works very well and everybody understands it and accepts it. There are plenty of details that can be improved on after the experience of this first full season.
"Now we will prepare for the World Congress where we will have more than 70 people from around the world to discuss the future, next season, the steps to come."
An integral part to this continued growth is the ongoing and close collaboration between the 3x3 and its partners Nike and Samsung.
"I really like to use the word 'partners' when talking about Nike and Samsung because they are partners and they help us a lot to grow and together we can do great things," Iliev added.