3-on-3 basketball proves to be popular event at Tokyo Olympics

Three-on-three basketball has become one of the biggest hits at this year’s Olympic Games.
The sport made its debut at the 2021 games in Tokyo, with the United States women’s team winning the inaugural gold medal. For many watching, it was an introduction to the sport. But the event’s popularity came as no surprise to one athlete at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“There's one sub, there's a 12-second shot clock. You really got to get that shot up even if there are hands on your face. But it's very, very exciting and interesting to watch,” says freshman guard Ella Fajardo.
Fajardo has been playing international three-on-three basketball since she was 16 years old. The Bergenfield native won the bronze medal with the Philippine National Team at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Under-18 Asia Cup in 2019. Both of her parents are from the Philippines and Fajardo is a dual citizen.
“When I found out I was able to play and have that support from my home country, it was like, wow. I knew it was going to be a support like no other,” she says.
The Gill St. Bernard graduate just finished summer workouts with FDU and is already making an impression as she transitions to the college game.
“The intangibles that she brings, you look at her, and from how she talks and communicates with the team, you don't think of as a freshman,” says FDU head coach Angelika Szumilo. “I'm very excited about her future here.”
“Everybody is on the same page. Everybody wants to get better and just pushing each other to be the best athletes that we can be. It's an amazing environment,” Fajardo says.
She says that she is working to get better every day and isn’t ruling out a possibly Olympic future in three-on-three.
“If I do have that opportunity, I will take it. But I think I’m focusing on all the opportunities here under Coach Ang’s wing – Coach Jess, Coach Katie, Coach Chris – so I can bring it over here,” Fajardo says.
If her college schedule permits, Fajardo says she's hoping to compete in the FIBA five-on-five Asia Cup this fall.