The Hague 3x3 Challenger Preview: Are Princeton the Fresh Prince of 3x3?
THE HAGUE (3x3 Challengers) - Team Princeton (USA) reached the Top 3 in every Challenger they played this season. Can they keep the streak alive at the The Hague 3x3 Challenger in the Netherlands on June 2-3, 2018?
Is the European domination on 3x3 over? Princeton started the season with a bang with a win at the Huaian Challenger and two 3rd place finishes at the GoYang and Tinkoff Moscow Open Challengers. Over the last month, they have been the fastest growing squad in the Top 30 of the FIBA 3x3 Team Ranking, climbing up 12 positions all the way up to 16th overall.
The number one team in the US has already earned a ticket to 3 World Tour Masters (Saskatoon, Mexico City and Kuala Lumpur) and are shooting for a 4th spot this weekend. The top 2 teams in the Hague will qualify for the Prague Masters, not to mention the 20,000 USD in prize money.
Princeton will face adversity in Holland and are only seeded 4th in Pool D with an up-and-coming Ljubljana East (SLO) team, which finished 4th at the Huaian Challenger. The winners of Pool B in the Qualifying Draw will complete the pool.
In Pool A, Ljubljana (SLO) will try to get their season back on track after 3 disappointing Challenger outings in Penang (4th), Huaian (9th) and Chengdu (6th). The 2-time World Tour winners will have to do without their star Jasmin Hercegovac in Pool A against local favorites Team The Hague (NED) and Lithuanian champions Sakiai Vytis (LTU).
The number 6 team in the world Riga (LAT) will see the return of their veteran leader Edgars Krumins (LAT). The Latvian lookalike of Hank from Breaking Bad will try to bring his team a second Challenger title this year after Riga's success at the Nanjing Challenger. Aachen der Stamm (GER) and the brand-new Italian professional team Roma Leonis (ITA) will complete Pool B.
The number 1 team in the Netherlands (also preparing to represent the country at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup in a week) Amsterdam Inoxdeals was seeded in Pool C with Ralja Intglactic (SRB) and the winners of the Qualifying Draw's Pool A.
In total, 6 of the Top 20 teams in the world will compete in The Hague, a city that already hosted a challenger last year (Novi Sad (SRB) won and Amsterdam finished 3rd) and staged the 3x3 Eurotour in the past.
The event is also a big warm-up for the 3x3 Pro League, which will start this summer in the Netherlands.
Four teams have already qualified for the Prague Masters, which will be held on August 4-5. Liman (SRB) and Piran (SLO) [based on ranking], Gagarin (RUS) and Humpolec Bernard (CZE)
The Challenger will be livestreamed on youtube.com/FIBA3x3