In March 2022, Ari Gili (Barcelona, 20 years old) made his debut for the Pune Panthers of India. He was the team’s international signing in one of the 3×3 basketball tournaments that allow for the professionalization of this Olympic sport. However, his contribution stopped a few minutes after the start of the first game: after heading to the basket, in the fall and after scoring, he tore the cruciate ligament in his left leg. Within a few hours, away from his family, he had to decide whether to undergo surgery in that country and, by the way, what to do from now on with the huge community of followers in his networks who had been cheering his meteoric progress for months. And according to that relationship, he kept recording himself with his cell phone at his worst. He looked into the camera, before the anesthetic was injected in order to intervene, he lowered his mask for a moment and said: “After this, nothing will be able to happen with me. I will tell you now.”
A year later, Geli founded Panthers3x3, his own club that will compete in the Catalan and Spanish tournaments, and will play several tournaments in Europe this summer. She is their CEO, trainer, tool, and, of course, one of their stars: “I manage the travel budget, tokens, whatever…now my mom is starting to help me. My dream is for him to quit his job and end up on his own.” In October 2021, the two argued when the player quit her job selling sneakers in a store: “My TikTok views are starting to go up.” In those clips, he was winning one-on-one over guys his age who were a head taller than him. “I’ve been playing against them my whole life because in urban stadiums, there are still fewer girls. For me it was part of the training, but it exploded on TikTok. At the end of last year, the platform, which has 2.2 million followers, chose it as The best reference maker in the field of sports In Spain, despite the fact that the main content of his channel is about a discipline other than football and in a still emerging method, 3×3 basketball.
Ask. Why did you switch from traditional basketball to 3×3?
Answer. It was the sum of things. On the one hand, I’m starting to get bored in training. On the other hand, what is about this method outside of sports (music, fashion, culture) attracted me because it provided me with something richer. And because I love being on the street, so often, it was easier to get a three-for-three than to wait for more.
s. Does it fit your lifestyle better?
R was found. Exactly, because it allows me to dedicate myself to content creation.
s. Because Ari Jelly…?
R was found. Basketball Player and Content Creator.
s. Now he runs the club. How is your new day to your day?
R was found. The priority is still training. To compete at the level I want to compete at is in high demand and it all starts there and I take care of myself. But it’s true that I find loopholes for content creation and management of everything Panthers3x3 now has to do with it.
s. In establishing the Panthers3x3 club, how much did it take to create this opportunity for yourself in Spain?
R was found. There is something for that. But beyond my career, the goal is to improve the impact of 3×3 basketball and women’s basketball in general in Spain.
s. which hour?
R was found. After a year that was very difficult due to injury, I feel like I’m in a moment of many changes. Changes on a personal, athletic and work level. But they are joys and I feel as though I am receiving a certain reward for how hard I have worked on them in recent months.
s. After infection in India, its content has changed. You no longer practice on the court, and you can’t do challenges or duels. This made her start to talk more about herself and show herself outside of the 3×3 player. The fallout also exploded and the recognition of TikTok was a result. How do you feel about this twist?
R was found. I didn’t do it fully consciously, but now I know how much it helped me. I check myself into the ambulance, at the hospital, and show all the recovery… It helped me and I found out I was helping other people with other operations. Injuries are something that has to do with playing sports and showing that side of being bad, getting up with a bad face and showing it, it also has to do with the responsibility of those of us who have a voice in the nets and we shouldn’t say everything is poetic all the time.
s. But this opens a bridge to their privacy. What are the distinctive red lines?
R was found. I try to show my own transparency, both when I’m doing well and when I’m not. But there is a red line in my personal life that I keep to myself. This drastic change humanized me in front of people. Up until then, everything was more sporty, but I think it was good for my fans, because they were able to relate to me so much more.
s. What scares you about all this?
R was found. Stop being a person for the rest. And I will explain so that it is understood: For example, I now feel that I cannot go by public transportation because people behave differently. People start recording me, taking pictures of me flash, he puts videos of me in high volume… These are things that I think they do without evil, but they generate anxiety and make me feel uncomfortable. Now when I go to watch basketball at any booth, I miss half of the game because they ask me for so many pictures; And that’s fine, but I also want to watch the match while it’s in progress. Anyway, that’s what I mean, and it’s a fear that I’m starting to develop. It matters a lot to me that people continue to see me as a person and not distance myself from that because of my networking.
s. What’s the best thing that 3×3 basketball and nets can give you?
R was found. Travel! And meet and live with players from other countries. Competing in Thailand and the Philippines, getting to know Nepal, being in several European countries, or going to Miami. Doing all of this, all the time, surrounded by the players that I love, visit, train with. I can’t ask for more.
s. He got many injuries. How did this pain and those operations affect you? Did they change you?
R was found. a lot. Injuries have changed who I am, and I’m grateful to have lived through these situations. The phrase “You don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it” is what I’ve gotten the most in my athletic career. And she even has it when I’m done working out. Now I have tremendous energy and a lot of gratitude. I am more aware, more competitive, and better value for everything that happens to me.
s. Next year, the Olympic Games will be held in Paris. Do you see Spain competing for medals?
R was found. Yes, frank. You will compete very well. We have some players.
s. Is being on this team your dream?
R was found. Yes, what can I tell you… I don’t know if I’m into the Games, but I would like to represent Spain in international competitions.
s. 3×3 Basketball Player and Content Creator. Where do you want to be in a few years?
R was found. I would like to compete in other countries, and meet more foreign players because it is an invaluable experience. Panthers3x3 has also established itself as a club, with a men’s team and lower categories, and has grown enough in the networks to continue to have fun and make it all workable. Reach reference levels like Ibai or Nil Ojeda.
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