Liman out for revenge against Riga Ghetto at Kunshan Challenger
KUNSHAN (China) – Serbian powerhouse Liman could get a chance at revenge against nemesis Riga Ghetto (LAT) at the Kunshan Challenger on May 18-19.
Outside of No.1 Novi Sad, the next three best teams in the world will be in China. Liman, Riga Ghetto and Amsterdam (NED) headline the 16-team competition which also boasts No.11 Ralja Intergalactic (SRB) and No.14 Tokyo Dime (JPN).
Of most intrigue is a potential rematch between world No.2 Liman and No.3 Riga Ghetto, who played an epic final at the Doha Masters last month. Led by MVP Karlis Lasmanis, the Latvians won their first ever Masters with a thrilling 15-14 victory.
The teams are building a strong rivalry with Riga having also beaten the Serbs in the quarter-final of the Bloomage Final in Beijing last year.
Liman, who continue to play without injured star Stefan Stojacic, are looking for a title having also lost at the quarter-finals against Serbian rivals Novi Sad last week at the Penang Challenger.
Riga, meanwhile, have been the hottest team this year with victories also at the Wuxi Challenger and the United League. Lasmanis, the dunking machine, is making a strong case for the mantle of best 3x3 player having raised his all-round game this season.
But don’t just pencil in a Liman-Riga final. World No.4 Amsterdam will be looking to make a statement after a disappointing start to the season which includes a sixth-place finish at the Nanjing Challenger and a winless campaign in Wuxi.
In-form Tokyo Dime also looms as a contender having made the semi-finals in Penang.
A dark horse could well be No.8 seeds Pasig Chooks from hoops-crazy Philippines. During their brilliant run at the Doha Masters, where they finished 5th, Pasig beat Liman in the pool stage only for their dream campaign to end at the quarter-finals against Riga.
Pasig has a chance to once again take down Liman in a Pool A blockbuster on the opening day in Kunshan. But this time around, the Filipino team will play without their 2 imports Nikola Pavlovic and Angelo Tsagarakis.
There will be five Chinese teams in the draw headlined by No.6 seeds Beijing South.
The event will also mark the Challenger debut of Russian rising star Vlad Meleshkin, who left a stunning impression for Sosnovy Bor CopRosatom (RUS) at the United League.
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The winner in Kunshan 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 Riga Ghetto who have already qualified - in Kunshan will earn the last two tickets for the looming Chengdu Masters on June 1-2 in the second stop on this season’s FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
Novi Sad (SRB), who qualified through a hard seed, headlines the field at the Chengdu Masters.
Follow the event live on the official FIBA 3x3 YouTube channel.