Hang Zhou 3x3 Challenger Preview: Bounce back time for Riga and Saskatoon?
HANG ZHOU (3x3 Challengers) - Riga (LAT) and Saskatoon (CAN) have a lot of common. Their teams both represented their country at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup and both disappeared in the quarter finals after a perfect record in the pool phase. How will they be affected by their bittersweet World Cup experience at the Hang Zhou 3x3 Challenger in China on June 16-17, 2018?
Riga is actually only in China for the 20,000 USD in prize money since the Latvians already secured their ticket to the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Chengdu Masters (the destination for the 2 best teams in Hang Zhou) based on last year's team ranking. They will be seeded in Pool B with 2 Chinese teams, Zhejiang AJRCB and Dongguan MCCHN, which sneaked in the Top 30 in the team ranking.
Saskatoon are in Pool D with a Ralja Intergalactic (SRB) team, that upset Riga (LAT) at the The Hague Challenger and won a trip to the Prague Masters. A Chinese team will complete the pool (the winners of Pool B's Qualifying Draw, which features 3 Chinese teams).
Pool A will be headlined by last year's World Tour winners, Zemun (SRB). The best 3x3 Spanish of this decade Malaga El Palo and The Hague (NED) will try to dethrone the kings.
Last but not least, get the pop corn ready for Pool C since two Top 15 teams will battle it out in the qualifying draw (Lausanne (SUI) and Ljubljana (SLO)). Only one of them can make it to Pool C and will get a chance to meet 2 more Top 20 teams in Kranj (SLO) - featuring previous Ljubljana player Tomo Cajic - and Yokohama City (JPN), starring former Novi Sad player Nikola Pavlovic.
In total, 4 of the Top 10 teams in the world and 4 more from the Top 20 will compete in Hang Zhou.
Four teams have already qualified for the Chengdu Masters, which will be held on September 29-30. Liman (SRB) and Riga (LAT) [based on ranking], Moscow Inanomo (RUS) and Ulaanbaatar (MGL)
The Challenger will be livestreamed on youtube.com/FIBA3x3