Zemun claim Ulaanbaatar 3x3 Challenger
ULAANBAATAR (Mongolia) – Zemun (SRB) upstaged Serbian rivals Liman (SRB) to win the Ulaanbaatar Challenger on June 8-9, 2019.
Here’s what happened.
The winners: Zemun (SRB)
The world No.9 made a statement from the start with comfortable wins over competitive Wst Melbourne Stateside (AUS) and hosts Ulaanbaatar (MGL).
The knockout stages were tough and tight but Zemun proved they had nerves of steel with a thrilling 15-14 victory over Ljubljana (SLO) in the semi-finals.
In the final against world No.2 Liman, Zemun had too much firepower for their fancied opponent and claimed a memorable 21-17 victory.
Number 1 in points allowed per game.
Number 3 in turnovers per game.
It was the ultimate team performance from Zemun, who had no player finish in the top 5 in points. However, underlining Zemun’s consistency, their players filled the next four positions. All of their players averaged between 4.8 and 4.4 points per game.
The No.3 seeds also built a nasty defense with opponents averaging just 14 points per game.
The runners-up: Liman (SRB)
It’s been a tough start to the season for Liman, who were used to so much winning last year. They had top three finishes at the Doha and Chengdu Masters but fell short and once again couldn’t go all the way in Ulaanbaatar even though they had three of the top five scorers in the tournament.
Mr Robot is back: Even though they have fallen short on numerous occasions, Liman should be applauded for still being highly competitive without their ace Stefan Stojacic aka Mr Robot who missed both Masters due to injury.
Stojacic made his grand return in Ulaanbaatar and he showcased his class to be the fifth highest scorer of the tournament with 24 points. There were games where he looked predictably rusty but Stojacic reminded everyone of his insane talents with a dazzling 12 points against Yekaterinburg Uralmash (RUS).
He will be better for the run and his presence makes Liman even more dangerous moving forward.
The final: Zemun 21-Liman 17
Underdogs Zemun were keen to make an early statement and big man Nikola Vukovic did just that by playing bully ball inside. It was a tight start but Zemun pulled away with six straight points to grab a 13-6 lead.
Vukovic continued to control the paint, while Marko Dugosija splashed from deep as Zemun looked headed for title glory.
But you just knew Liman would fight back. And they did just that with Mihailo Vasic leading the charge with buckets around the rim and he reduced the margin to 17-15 when he dropped a bomb from downtown.
Zemun appeared to be collapsing but they steadied just in time with a calm Vukovic finishing the job from beyond the arc to trigger celebrations for Zemun.
The reward: Two tickets to the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Prague Masters
Zemun and Liman join Novi Sad (SRB), NY Harlem (USA), Piran (SLO) and Princeton (USA) for the Prague Masters on August 3-4.
1. Zemun (SRB)
2. Liman (SRB)
3. Korolev (RUS)
4. Ljubljana (SLO)
5. Ulaanbaatar (MGL)
1. Mihailo Vasic (Liman, SRB) 35 pts
- Ilia Karpenkov (Korolev, RUS) 35 pts
3. Stefan Kojic (Liman, SRB) 27 pts
4. Sasa Zagorac (Ljubljana, SLO) 26 pts
5. Stefan Stojacic (Liman, SRB) 24 pts
- Fifth seeds Korolev were the only seeds outside the top four to make the semi-finals.
- The five fastest games in the tournament came before the knockout stages. After that, the fastest game was the final between Liman and Zemun (8’18” of playing time).
- Ilia Karpenkov was sensational for semi-finalists Korolev averaging a tournament high 8.8 points per game.
- Mihailo Vasic continued his excellent form with 35 points overall and a tournament high 13 key assists.
Next Challenger: Lipik Challenger (June 14-15)