Kıvanç Dinler: “3 on 3 vs. 5 on 5 is a completely different story”

Today we are with the former Turkish basketball player and 3v3 legend Kıvanç Dinler. He is the world champion in Redbull King of the Rock 2014 and 2015. We appreciate that Kıvanç Dinler accepted our interview offer.

1-) First of all, could you please tell me about yourself and your career?

I am an instructor in the faculty of sports scientist in Manisa Turkey also about to finish my PhD in the psychosocial area specifically amateur basketball. I played 20 years of professional basketball, four years of college basketball and heavy bleeding nearly nine years old amateur specifically street basketball. My career is not only world championships. I also have 6 times national final in 3v3, 2 times national championships, 1 time national Mvp. I also did play national 3v3 team and I currently the coach of the 3v3 national team. I am coaching highschool 3v3 team and also play with them. These players are also my students. And I have a sponsor that made us the first professional 3v3 basketball team in Turkey. This is a situation that is really unique in my career. I will talk in more details about this 3 on 3 professional teams in the upcoming questions.

2-) How did you start to 3v3 basketball?

I quit basketball to coach. While I was coaching I was invited to amateur basketball league. After 1 year of not playing, I realized that I am out of the shape. I worked out to getting shape and realized that I can play because I quit without any injuries. I was playing averaging good numbers in the first division. So I got back to shape again and all of sudden I was the top player who playing amateur basketball because nobody was professional playing in an amateur basketball league. So I succeed and that is why I started to 3v3. I realized that I really successful basically up-tempo, high fun, high energy game because of my professional strength, endurance and coaching. And at the same time, while I started, there was 1 on 1 basketball competition. Again I was one of the few ex-professionals in that competition. And I played finals in Turkey twice and got the opportunity to go to world championships. And as you know won it twice.

3-) What do you think are the main differences between basketball and 3v3 basketball? Which one do you find more fun?

3 on 3 vs 5 on 5 is a completely different story. They are not the same. The rules are different, the ball is different, the court is different, the player numbers are different. So it looks like there is a basketball at the basketball but they are different. This is as different as volleyball vs beach volleyball. So yes there is a basketball but it is smaller and way is different. There is a court even different ground and the time is highly important since it makes it really difficult to score in short times on. The person needs to be high in shape as shown. The person needs to be a personal coach on his own team because there isn’t a coach. So there is no timeout that you can draw a set it. There is a timeout that you can call that you can rest. But that is all, also that is 30 seconds, by the time you catch your breathe and talk a couple of seconds with your friends and you are out. It is also illegal to look outside a coach and get directions. So there is no coach, you need 4 players who know this game.

So which is more fun of course 3 on 3 is more fun. Because in 5 on 5 basketball there are 5 defenders it is hard to score. You need to bring the ball, set the team up, get organized. It is really tough to get a score. On 3v3 it is easier. So there are more shoots, there is like a shoot in every 6-7 seconds, there are more passes. I had my students watch tones of world championships games as homework and realized that every possession there is a 3 pass or more and there are 3 dribbles or less. So there are more passes in 3 on 3 than dribbles. This requires a lot of cutting, a lot of basketball knowledge and a lot of shoots. Because offensive rebounds are tough so this is really more fun.

4-) Can you talk about your world championships? What does it feel like?

My world championships have opened a door for the street basketball in Turkey and put Turkish name on the map. We already had successful Nba players there are with the Turkish origin and also we did a pretty good job in European leagues with top Turkish basketball teams but we had no successes 3 on 3 and streetball. So with this 1 on 1 world championships, it led to use and show that if you work hard enough you have a gateway to be known worldwide or nationwide. So this kids on the street have a goal with these championships.

I was invited since I played national championships twice in 1 on 1 and they invited me to a world championship as representing to Turkey. I won it because of not my abilities and skills. It is because of my coaching abilities and sport science knowledge. I care about my nutrition and analyse the opponents. This 1 on 1 is not about skills, it is about endurance, knowing what to do when you are getting tired. And when you tired you can’t make your 3 pt shots, you can’t play high skill basketball. It is all about pushing and pulling, it is basically wrestling on basketball. Wrestling requires anaerobic energy and it requires basically a lot of oxygen, a lot of carbs anyway. It requires different top of energy and I load up on that before I went the pushing and pulling game that is why I succeed. Because of my physical abilities that are all about it. My opponents were highly skilled but they didn’t know what they do in the end because they were so tired.

5-) Who do you like in 3v3 basketball around the world?

There is no specific player that I really like. Of course, everybody likes Dusan Bulut because of his personal skills and strength. On the other hand, there is great Lithuanian teams and Serbian teams. Everybody in these teams is also highly skilled. So nearly every top team are really good. That is why Fiba 3 on 3 have great players. They all have great strength, great abilities, great endurance. I respect them all.

6-) Usually, we see that players who quit basketball move to 3v3. But there are exceptions, such as former Gsw player Alfonzo Mckinnie. Do you think it is possible to start with 3v3 and move on to 5v5 basketball?

At this topic important thing is starting as a professional. Professional means you have to provide your family with money. So in order to quit 5v5 and stepping to 3v3, you have to make money. But in order to make money in 3 on 3, you need not just yourself, you need 3 others. So how this should happen can be, you need at least a minimum 3 or 4 guys that will decide to quit and stepping 3 on 3. You have to spend a couple of years without making money to prove yourself. And it will also take time to find sponsorship. Therefore in order to basically if you won’t step out of 5v5 to 3v3 immediately, you need 3 on 3 league that is ready to go. In Turkey, you can’t do that because there is no 3 on 3 league and sponsors. So nobody wants to step from 5v5 to 3v3. In the future, it would be an option but currently, because of the lack of leagues and sponsor, there is not possible for 5v5 players to step 3v3. Of course, if there is a team that is ready for immediately paying you, then it is okay. But at this condition, no 3 on 3 teams probably will be willing to break many years of habit and team spirit and bring a professional just because he is professional. They will stay with their teammates as long as they stay healthy.

7-) Do you think that 3v3 basketball is given enough importance in the world?

3 on 3 basketball around the world will get what it deserves with help of Olympic games. When the Olympic games start, many countries around the world will see this sport. And understand how easy and funny it is. On the other hand, it requires basketball federation’s serious concern. They have to make this public. Also, we have to get this 3v3 as a sport in middle schools and high schools. There is a project in Turkey. That is about to start, that makes 3 on 3 high school sport. Basically teams of high schools and middle schools. They will have their own 3 on 3 teams. They already have basketball teams but not 3 on 3 teams.

8 -) What special problems 3v3 basketball in Turkey? Why Turkey does not have a lot of 3v3 players? How can these problems be solved?

3v3 in Turkey is my main issues other than my family right now. I really focus on it and really think about what to do it about to get better. First of all, as myself I raised kids. I had kids that started at the 17 or 18 age 3v3 and they play in the national team at the age 24 or 25. They can improve their skills and serve their national teams. So I am proud of about doing my best on my part. As an organization, wise people in Turkey don’t know how to organize 3v3 tournaments. They don’t know the rules, they don’t know how to set up to scoreboard, the court, the ground, how they can promote, etc. Every year I get 4-5 calls from organizations about how to organize it.

We can fix this with education. I started a 3 on 3 basketball course at my university. This course will be not only about the rules, it will be also about how to organize 3 on 3 tournaments. I hope that I will extend this course to other colleges in the future. With enough information provided more kids will have the chance to join tournaments. Then the player numbers will increase. We have great streetball opportunities. Our countries have great places to play streetball because Turkey’s weather situation is mostly fit for streetball. So in Turkey, all you need is knowing some rules, some tournaments for attending and achieve your goals. Also, some role models to set an example. Like I said we need educations and some passion. Basketball federation and some volunteers like me, we will get them.

9-) Do you have anything to say the young basketball player candidates?

For the young kids that are reading this, if they interested 3v3, they have to be strong, they have to be great shooters and they have to know how to play basketball. They have to know pick, cut and extra pass. They can achieve this by watching professional 3v3 basketball players. When they watch professional 3v3 basketball players, they will see that 3v3 is not about crazy dribble skills. It is also about cutting, strength, moving, holding. Not crying if there is a foul because 3v3 is really tough sport. And also they need 3 more really good friends that is at the same level as them.

You need to play a lot of 3 on 3 games and find out what you and your friends’ weaknesses and strengths are. Come up with your own sets. Watch professionals and get their sets, get their strength levels. In the future, you can be one of them. If there is an opportunity for the young kids who play 3v3 or 5v5, I would definitely say play 3v3. Because in 5v5 if you are not a superstar, your averaging will be 6 or 7 shots per game. If you are a bench player, you have 2 or 3 shoots. You will leave the game not tired and you spend 2 hours. There is no way for 3 on 3 players will leave the court untired. The average 3 on 3 players play 6 minutes, the top player plays 8 minutes. Nobody play for 10 minutes because it is not possible. The worst 3 on 3 players will take 7 shots or more in these 6 minutes. There will be so much contact, they will have an amazing time and fun. So if there is an opportunity, if there is a league or something for 3v3, I would say choose 3 on 3.

I am about to start a project. A youth club that is focusing on 3v3. I will have 8 players teams and separate them into 4 players groups. Whole practice will be in half-court. They will play 3 on 3 at the end. So they will take more shots, they will play more and they will have more fun. If this project goes through, this will be the first 3v3 based sports group. Hopefully, I will share this info and you can see this. It will also make a difference, people will look up into it and try to copy it. This also gives information to parents and kids how it good for the kids. I hope this helps for the kids and for the people who read this. They can always reach out to me on Instagram. (@turkishkd) I always reply to anybody who asked for information.

Onat Orhan Selvi