Piran confirm impressive early season form with Sydney 3x3 Challenger title
SYDNEY (3x3 Challengers) - Piran (SLO) became the first team to win 2 Challengers this season after defeating Melbourne i-Athletic (AUS) (22-9) in the final of the Sydney Challenger on May 18-19, 2018.
For the first-ever Challenger held in Australia, Basketball Australia and the NBL offered one of the most iconic backdrops in 3x3 history with the Sydney Opera House on the horizon.
The number 4 team in the world Piran was apparently inspired as it delivered a 5-0 masterpiece over the 2 days of competition.
The Slovenian team picked things up where it left off just 2 weeks after winning the Penang Challenger in Malaysia: they've now won 10 games in a row.
It didn't seem to matter that Piran were missing their leader Gasper Ovnik in Australia (replaced by 3x3 pro circuit rookie Ziga Erculj). 26-year-old Anze Srebovt took over with a top-scoring 42 points and 'the Sphinx' Simon Finzgar finished 3rd in scoring with 33 points.
Piran won every game before the limit except a 18-16 thriller against Amsterdam Inoxdeals (NED) in the semi-finals.
This means the Slovenian team now has secured 4 tickets to the World Tour this season (Mexico City and Prague based on ranking plus India and Utsunomiya via Challengers).
The other finalists Melbourne i-Athletic on the other hand will compete at their first-ever World Tour event in Utsunomiya, Japan on July 28-29. In fact they will become the first Australian team to make it to the World Tour since the inaugural edition back in 2012.
The Australian team had a heroic performance on the second day of competition in Sydney. Down just 3 players, with no subs, they won back-to-back nail-biters against Lausanne (SUI) in the quarter-finals and Adjuntas (PUR) in the semi-finals. Completely exhausted, they did come back to earth in the final against the dominant Piran.
Melbourne i-Athletic are the pro version of the Australian national team, which won gold at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2018.
We now know half of the 14 teams who will play at the Utsunomiya Masters with Ljubljana (SLO), Zemun (SRB) (based on ranking), Auckland (NZL) (3x3 New Zealand Quest Tour winners), Liman (SRB), Humpolec Bernard (CZE) (Wuxi Challenger finalists), Piran (SLO) and Melbourne i-Athletic (AUS).
Five of the Top 15 teams in the world and a total of 16 teams from 10 different countries played at the Sydney Challenger.
The next Challenger will take place in Chengdu, China on May 26-27.
1. Piran (SLO)
2. Melbourne i-Athletic (AUS)
3. Amsterdam Inoxdeals (NED)
4. Adjuntas (PUR)
5. Belgrade (SRB)
1. Anze Srebovt (Piran) 42 pts
2. Thomas Garlepp (Melbourne i-Athletic) 34 pts
3. Simon Finzgar (Piran) 33 pts
4. Andrew Steel (Melbourne i-Athletic) 28 pts
5. Dimeo Van der Horst (Amsterdam Inoxdeals) 26 pts