Olympic Basketball Breakdown: Rules and Formats for 5-on-5 and 3×3

Olympic Basketball Breakdown (NBA)

The game of basketball, born in a Massachusetts gymnasium in 1891, has evolved into a global phenomenon, attracting audiences worldwide. From its Olympic debut in Berlin in 1936 to the introduction of women’s basketball at the Montreal Games in 1976, the sport has continued to gain momentum.

As 3×3 basketball prepares to take center stage at the 2024 Paris Olympics for the second consecutive time, the excitement is palpable. However, fans of professional leagues like the NBA, WNBA, and BIG3 may notice some key differences in the Olympic competitions.


At the Olympics, the 5-on-5 tournament follows a traditional format, with teams divided into groups and competing in a preliminary round-robin phase. The top teams then advance to a single-elimination knockout stage, culminating in the gold medal game. The 3×3 competition features a unique format, with teams playing each other in a round-robin phase, followed by semifinals and a final match.

Another outstanding difference lies in the game’s duration and scoring system. While professional leagues play four quarters, Olympic 5-on-5 games consist of four quarters, each lasting 10 minutes. In 3×3, the first team to score 21 points wins, or the team leading after 10 minutes takes the game.

The Olympic competitions also feature a distinct atmosphere, with a focus on national pride and international competition. The world’s top athletes come together to represent their countries, creating an electrifying environment that sets the Olympics apart from professional leagues.

As the 2024 Paris Olympics approach, basketball enthusiasts can expect thrilling performances, stunning upsets, and unforgettable moments that will showcase the sport’s global appeal.