Mongolian private team Ulaanbaatar Amazons joins FIBA 3x3 Women's Series

3 May 2022

ULAANBAATAR (Mongolia) - If Team Mongolia and Ulaanbaatar Amazons meet somewhere along the line in this season's FIBA 3x3 Women's Series, Mongolian 3x3 Basketball Association president Myagmarjav Luvsandash is not worried about split loyalties.

"It won't be a problem. It's great development for women's 3x3 in Mongolia," said Luvsandash about the Central Asian country boasting a second women's professional team. "We have a pool of players and they compete against each other in training all the time so it won't be any different if the teams meet."

For its third edition in 2022, in an exciting development, the women's professional circuit will boast teams registered by private promoters along with national federations.

Japan's Xross Sports Marketing, a subsidiary of Xebio and organizers of 3x3.EXE Premier, became the first private entity and have been quickly followed by Ulaanbaatar Amazons, whose main sponsor is the Mongolian Mining Corporation (MMC).

It means there are six professional teams in Mongolia - four men's and two women's - to confirm the country's seriousness and rising influence in 3x3, which is the No.1 most popular sport discipline in the nation of just over three million people.

"3x3 is really popular in Mongolia, but we wanted our women to be able to focus totally on 3x3 and be professional. The development of the Amazons helps this," said Battsengel Gotov, who is the Amazons manager and chief executive of MMC.

With 30 professional players, including 10 women, the pathway is becoming especially attractive for young Mongolians watching their heroes compete on the international stage.

"Having professional players empower youth, especially girls, that there is a pathway and it's a good message for the young generation," Gotov said. "It will encourage more girls to play 3x3."

While Team Mongolia will field a familiar line-up of the country's national players - who led them to a historic appearance at the Tokyo Olympics - the new team is likely to boast mostly U23 players but they could have a secret weapon to ensure they are highly competitive right away.

With commercial teams allowed to look abroad for players, Canadian star Rashida Timbilla has become the team's marquee signing and the 29-year-old is tipped to make an immediate impact. "She is experienced and physically strong," Luvsandash said of the 6ft (1.83m) Timbilla who is expected to fit Mongolia's traditionally rugged style of play.

Timbilla's signing is on the back of compatriot Steve Sir's recent move to men's team Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy, where he will be player and coach. He will also be director of player development for the national teams.

It signals intent from Mongolia who don't want to be just known as 3x3's greatest Cinderella story. They want to become a legitimate powerhouse as they eye both their national teams making a splash at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

"We hope Rashida and Steve can help lift the level of our players," Luvsandash said. "North American players have different playing styles to us, so hopefully they can teach some new things. We will see how it goes with them and maybe down the track hire more people from overseas."

With much anticipation for their debut, the Amazons are set to be unveiled in the Women's Series season opener in Tel Aviv on May 28-29. They might just live up to their rather cool name, which is inspired from a race of female warriors in Greek mythology.

"The Amazons will feature some of Mongolia's most talented women players but also have some experience so they should do quite well," Luvsandash said.

It what looms as a big year in Mongolian 3x3, there will be two Women's Series stops in Ulaanbaatar this season in what should ensure plenty of opportunities to see Mongolia's new band of 3x3 female warriors,

FIBA