Brave Novi Sad overcome in-form Edmonton to win Penang 3x3 Challenger

PENANG (Malaysia) – A courageous Novi Sad (SRB) were pushed to the limit by in-form Edmonton (CAN) but returned to winning fashion at the third 3x3 Challenger of the season in Penang, Malaysia, on May 11-12, 2019.

Here’s what happened.

The winners: Novi Sad (SRB)

The No.1 team in the world had to do it the hard way in the last-minute absence of Dusan Bulut. The three-man lineup of Dejan Majstorovic, Marko Zdero and Marko Savic produced a gutsy performance and overcame an early loss to Edmonton in the pool stage to beat the Canadians in the final.

Much to their delight, Novi Sad thrillingly beat their Serbian rivals Liman (SRB) 21-19 in the quarter-finals in the latest chapter between the two best teams in the world. It was sweet revenge for Novi Sad, whose 35-game winning streak ended at the hands of Liman during last month’s Doha Masters.

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They were:
Number 1 in points per game.
Number 2 and 3 in one-point and two-point percentage.

Majstorovic reminded everyone why he is 'The Maestro' in Malaysia. In the knockout stages, Majstorovic stepped up with a dominant 15 points against Liman, 16 versus Tokyo Dime (JPN) in the semis and then a game-high 9 points in the final.

He was splashing from another postcode but also deadly from inside to deservedly win the MVP after finishing with an incredible 57 points (34 from behind the arc).

The runners-up: Edmonton (CAN)

The new team on the block continues to prove they are the real deal after winning the Nanjing Challenger last month. The ninth seeds made an early statement by beating Novi Sad and their giant killing run included beating Russian teams Moscow Inanomo and Gagarin in the knockout stages.

Inside and outside game hard to stop: Kyle Landry was unstoppable inside with an incredible 21 of 22 from inside the arc. But Edmonton also had the 2-point weapon with a tournament best 33% from beyond the arc.

That was thanks to sharpshooter Steve Sir who proved why he is a world class sniper with an impressive 10 of 22 from 2-point range.

The final: Novi Sad 21-Edmonton 17

The Serbs usually play their best on the big stage and this was no exception as they raced out of the blocks faster than Usain Bolt. Majstorovic continued his hot form with a couple of two-pieces to give Novi Sad a commanding 11-4 lead.

It looked like an easy win until Edmonton found their groove. 25-year-old Jordan Jensen-Whyte played tough defense to force Novi Sad into turnovers. Landry and Jermaine Bucknor feasted inside to get the Canadians within two.

But, fittingly, Majstorovic iced the game at the line to seal Novi Sad’s crown.

The reward: Two tickets to the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Mexico City Masters

Novi Sad and Edmonton won their tickets to the third Masters of the season in Mexico City. They join Riga (LAT) and Princeton (USA) - who qualified based on ranking.

Final Standings:
1. Novi Sad (SRB)
2. Edmonton (CAN)
3. Gagarin (RUS)
4. Tokyo Dime (JPN)
5. Liman (SRB)

Top Scorers:
1. Dejan Majstorovic (Novi Sad, SRB) 57pts
2. Jermaine Bucknor (Edmonton, CAN) 35pts
3. Marko Savic (Novi Sad, SRB) 30pts
4. Kyle Landry (Edmonton, CAN) 28pts
5. Steve Sir (Edmonton, CAN) 27pts

Key Stats:
- Novi Sad were the only top four seed to make it to the semi-finals.
- Darwin’s (AUS) win over Dalat (MAL) in the qualifying draw was the fastest game of the tournament (6'16" of playing time).
- Jermaine Bucknor beasted on the boards averaging a tournament high 4.6 per game on the defensive end but he was sloppy with the ball committing an event-high 3.2 turnovers per game.
- Dejan Majstorovic was named MVP of the Penang Challenger. He averaged an incredible 11.4 points per game and accounted for almost 56% of his team’s points.

Next Challenger: Kunshan, China (May 18-19)