São Paulo DC become first fully professional 3x3 team in Brazil

SÃO PAULO (Brazil) - For the past two months, the new look São Paulo DC have been hard at work in the gym every day preparing for a big 3x3 campaign this year.

Only star Luiz Felipe Soriani remains from last year’s team who reached the quarter-finals at the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters in Mexico City.

The team is starting afresh highlighted by the key inclusions of big name Jefferson Socas and professional coach Guilherme Bez, a 3x3 mastermind.

São Paulo DC have been training twice daily since mid-January in grueling workouts to get into prime physical shape and build important chemistry. Only during the iconic Carnival festival did the players take a breather.

The heavy training load is part of Sao Paulo DC’s push into professionalism with their players now getting paid a full-time salary for the first time. The club receives funding from the Sao Paulo government and also have several sponsors.

“Brazil’s top 3x3 players are getting old and we want to find new talent.”- Gustavo Bracco

Sao Paulo DC team manager Gustavo Bracco said 3x3 has started to emerge in Brazil, where basketball is the third most popular sport behind football and volleyball.

"It is getting more popular in Brazil being an urban sport and is very popular in the streets,” he says. “The only way to develop the sport is to make it professional and teams practicing every day will create a better standard."

Highlighting their professional approach, Sao Paulo DC has a new structure with the club also starting an U23 team and a university team through a relationship with Universidade Paulista (UNIP), the biggest university in Brazil. These teams have also been training daily.

"Brazil’s top 3x3 players are getting old and we want to find new talent," says Bracco, a former 3x3 national player for Brazil. "Younger players are motivated and bring energy to practice so they increase the standard.

"The players have been training at an Olympic facility which highlights this growing professionalism. Other teams want to train with us."

The  recruitment process started with a big try-out, with dozens of players auditioning to join the team. One of them was former Real Madrid player Socas, whose inclusion was important for 3x3’s perception as it moves away from the basketball shadow.

"He wants to chase his Olympic dream and 3x3 is the best way for him to achieve that,” Bracco says of Socas. “It is becoming a pathway for players, so the Olympic status is very important for 3x3."

It is set to be an exciting São Paulo DC team this year, but Soriani’s presence creates important stability. "He is such an important player and has good international experience,” Bracco says. “At 30, he can bring leadership to the younger players."

Things are developing nicely for São Paulo DC and expectations are high for them to have an impact at the upcoming World Tour. Bracco, however, says the team will not be looking too far ahead.

"This is the first time we are playing together," he says. "Hopefully we can have a top four finish at one or two World Tour events but there is no pressure.

"It is exciting how 3x3 is developing here. We as a club are trying to do something different and it has been an encouraging start so far."