Wobbly Novi Sad aim to get back on track at Rimini 3x3 Challenger
RIMINI (Italy) – World No.1 Novi Sad (SRB) are hoping to shrug off indifferent form and return to their winning ways at the F.I.P. Rimini 3x3 Challenger on August 19-20, 2019.
Since taking out the Chengdu and Mexico City Masters, it’s been a tougher stretch for 3x3’s best team who have not tasted success since. They suffered a shock quarter-final exit at the Prague Masters and failed to reach the final four at the recent Bucharest Challenger.
Novi Sad also lost in the final of the Belgrade Challenger to Zemun (SRB) last month. They will be confident of a better showing in Rimini being at full strength and they still boast the top four ranked players in the world.
But with Novi Sad wavering and other challengers coming for the throne, there is debate whether No.1 player Dusan Bulut aka Mr Bullutproof is still 3x3’s best player. American stars Robbie Hummel and Dominique Jones along with Riga Ghetto’s (LAT) superhero Karlis Lasmanis have genuine claims for top billing.
With the heat on, expect Mr Bullutproof to be at his outrageous best in Italy as he attempts to lead Novi Sad out of a drought.
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Novi Sad won’t have it easy with the field loaded in Rimini. No.2 seeds NY Harlem (USA) led by Jones aka Disco Domo have been ballin’ this season and won four Challenger titles, including three straight leading into Rimini.
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Disco Domo has been unstoppable with his array of insane moves punctuated by sweet jumpers from downtown. He will be the key player again as the New Yorkers have a different line-up with Antoinne Morgano and David Seagers missing out. They will be replaced by Kidani Brutus, who has impressed this season, and Joey King.
Fellow Americans Princeton (USA) have also been an eye-catching team this season and made the final of the Prague Masters on the back of Hummel’s spectacular form.
However, Princeton struggled at the Bucharest Challenger with a quarter-final thrashing to Piran and the same line-up will be hoping to bounce back in Rimini.
Two young teams that could upstage the top seeds are No.5 Gagarin (RUS) and No.7 Lausanne (SUI). The Russians have the talent to take on anyone and will be armed with the country’s best 3x3 player – Alexander Zuev who can do everything on the court.
The Swiss will be without their superstar Natan Jurkovitz but they hope for a strong preparation ahead of their homecoming at the upcoming Lausanne Masters.
Eight of the top 18 ranked teams in the world will compete in the 16-team tournament. The winner in Rimini takes home $15,000 USD and there is $32,000 overall in prize money - a significant increase from $20,000 in challengers last year.
The two top teams – other than already qualified NY Harlem, Gagarin and Lausanne - earn tickets for the Debrecen Masters on August 27-28 in the seventh stop on this season’s FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
World No.2 Riga Ghetto, No.3 Liman (SRB), No.1 1 Edmonton (CAN) have already qualified for Debrecen.
Follow the Rimini Challenger live on the official FIBA 3x3 YouTube channel.