Edmonton win Fountask Nanjing 3x3 Challenger

NANJING (China) - The tournament's number 9 seed Edmonton (CAN) beat all odds to win  the 2nd 3x3 Challenger of the season in Nanjing, China on April 20-21, 2019. Here's what happened:

The winners: Edmonton (CAN)

The Canadians are one of the brand new teams on the World Tour this season. The squad is the result of the split-up of Team Saskatoon (CAN), who finished 2nd at the World Tour back in 2014: Jordan Baker, Jermaine Bucknor and Steve Sir created Edmonton while Nolan Brudehl, Michael Lieffers and Michael Linklater remained with Team Saskatoon. 

The team's success shouldn't come as a total surprise as Edmonton reached the semi-finals of the Wuxi Challenger the previous week. In Nanjing, they switched to 6th gear.

They were:
Number 1 in points per game and 2-point percentage.
Number 2 and 3 in least turnovers and rebounds per game.

Their captain Steve Sir went from Steve Kerr to Steph Curry in Nanjing. The best shooter in the history of NCAA basketball (in percentage) was more of a spot-up or a catch-and-shoot shooter last year. This year, he's also shooting off the dribble and has more responsibilities with the ball. This translated into an MVP performance, including an event-best 36 points (32 of them coming from behind the arc).


The runner-ups: Princeton (USA)

Princeton bounced back nicely on Day 2 after losing to the Chinese youngsters of Beijing South in the pool phase. To be fair, the Chinese went on to finish 3rd overall. In any case, Princeton came to Nanjing with their big lineup with just one player of short size  and 3 players over 6ft 7in (2 meters), leaving their best shooter Craig Moore and the most famous 6-pack in the 3x3 game Dan Mavraides at home.

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With their big lineup, Princeton dominated the boards and the blocks (1st in both categories). They got their ticket to the World Tour thanks to their defense. They held Ralja Intergalatic (SRB) and Yekaterinburg Uralmash (RUS) to 12 and 10 points respectively in the quarter and semi-finals before falling short against Edmonton (CAN) in the final.

The final: Edmonton 19 - Princeton 16

The US team started with the pedal on the gas and jumped to a 6-2 lead after Kareem Maddox converted a free throw. But Steve Sir had been there, done that. The Canadian sniper went unconscious, hitting 3 twos in a row in 90 seconds. leading his team to a 8-nothing-run. He had a game-high 9 points in the final. His team-mate 25-year-old Jordan Jensen-Whyte also scored from behind the arc and gave Edmonton a 19-10 lead with 2'30" to go. The Canadians had a bit of a late-game scare as they did not score after that. Former NBA player Robbie Hummel started finding his range (he also had 4 two-pointers in the game) but Princeton could not complete that come-back and fell 3 points short (16-19).


The reward: 2 tickets to the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Chengdu Masters

Edmonton and Princeton won their ticket to the 2nd Masters of the season in Chengdu. They join Novi Sad (SRB) and Ljubljana (SLO) - who qualified based on ranking - and Riga Ghetto (LAT) and Gagarin (RUS), who finished 1 and 2 at the 1st Challenger of the season in Wuxi, China. It'll be Edmonton's first-ever trip to the World Tour.

Final Standings:
1. Edmonton (CAN)
2. Princeton (USA)
3. Beijing South (CHN)
4. Yekaterinburg Uralmash (RUS)
5. Gagarin (RUS)

Top Scorers:
1. Steve Sir (Edmonton, CAN) 36pts
2. Dimeo Van der Horst (Amsterdam, NED) 33pts
3. Yi Zheng (Beijing South, CHN) 31pts
4. Jordan Baker (Edmonton, CAN) 31pts
5. Kareem Maddox (Princeton, USA) 27pts

Key Stats:
- No European team finished in the top 3 in Nanjing though 5 of the top 7 seeds were from the Old Continent.
- Edmonton's win over Chengdu (CHN) in the pool phase was the fastest game of the professional season so far (6'23" of playing time).
- There was only 1 buzzer beater in the entire event (Dimeo van den Horst for Amsterdam vs, the eventual winners Edmonton)
- Inderbir Gill led all scorers in both key assists and drives... though his Delhi 3BL team played just 3 games.
- Steve Sir was named MVP of the Nanjing Challenger. He buried a tournament-high 16 two-pointers at a whopping 46% clip.

Next Challenger: Penang, Malaysia (May 11-12)