Some of world's best 3x3 basketball players in Edmonton for tournament

Some of world's best 3x3 basketball players in Edmonton for tournament

They can be seven feet tall and speed toward the basket with elegance and strength.

We're talking 3x3 basketball stars, and some of the best male players will be in Edmonton this weekend for a 16-team tournament that's welcoming teams from around the world.

The players are coming from Serbia, Japan and across Canada to compete in the FIBA 3x3 Challenger event at West Edmonton Mall.

"It's that diversity of play that you're going to see this weekend that makes it just incredibly fun," said Paul Sir, executive director of the Alberta Basketball Association.

"People will be blown away when they see the elite level players playing out there."

People will be blown away when they see the elite level players playing out there. - Paul Sir, executive director of Alberta Basketball Association

The 3x3 game is exploding in popularity and will be an event at the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Basketball's international governing body, FIBA, has been pushing relentlessly to make the 3x3 game a "global phenomenon," Sir said in an interview on CBC's Radio Active on Thursday..

"The outcome of that is global tournaments and leagues springing up all over the world," he said.

"I think it's fair to say we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg for a game that will continue to grow quickly."

The sport's appeal comes in part from the fast pace of play as players face off on a half-sized court with a single basket. Each game is a maximum of 10 minutes, and the ball becomes live as soon as one team scores.

"It moves very, very quickly. Decisions have to be made very fast," Sir said.

"And the skill level ...has to be at a very high level to be successful. It really takes away a lot of the downtime that you see in five on five ... it just focuses the game on the half court action."

The tournament runs on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23 at West Edmonton Mall, with $20,000 US up for grabs.