On October 17, the first ever Red Bull Half Court world finals took place in Rome, with 16 countries battling it out on the Scalo San Lorenzo court for the crowning title, and we were there to watch it all happen IRL.
After seven months of open tournaments and national qualifiers, local teams gathered from around the globe, with international stars like Dušan Bulut of Serbia, Robert Kulawick of Germany and Badara Top of Switzerland, competing in an electrifying final. The 3on3 game, played on just half of the court, consists of just 10 minutes of play, intensifying the game and leading up to the dramatic final between Serbia and Russia (Men’s) and Italy and Russia (Women’s).
As the men’s final drew closer, local crowds gathered to see Russia and Serbia battle it out on the court. In a very tight result, what appeared to be a win by Russia was quickly pulled by the Serbian team, with Bulut, considered to be one of the greatest 3on3 players of all time, scoring a 2 pointer jump shot and winning the game with just 5 seconds left on the clock. In an ending that felt almost scripted, Bulut commented “It’s simply amazing. Especially when you play in this kind of park, you see that the passion for the game is here, and you want to give a show to the crowd. Then to win at the end of the day, it just can’t get better than that.”
The women’s final similarly fell close to the wire, with the Russian team beating Italy by just a few points. With a local team playing the the final, the Italian crowds came together to show their support in a community felt game, an atmosphere which sets itself apart from the usual televised sports. Team Russia star Valeria Deriabina said: “I’m extremely happy because this game was so emotional for us and the Italians were very strong. We were nervous, but we took in this amazing atmosphere and we did it. I feel so good.”
In the first ever Half Court final, we were able to immerse ourselves in the local street-ball culture and delve into a unique sporting experience of which is non-compatible to the regular basketball tournaments around the world today. 10 local playgrounds around the world have been transformed and brought to life in conjunction with Red Bull Half Court, which are set to become an inspiring place for communities to gather and play ball. More than just a tournament, the game is without a doubt set to go down in history, and we can’t wait to see what next year will bring.