One question for every team ahead of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final
JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia) - The FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2020 is coming to a conclusion with the final set to take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. We take a closer look at each team and ask one question ahead of the World Tour Final.
Is it their time?
Simply put, Liman has done everything to convince us all that they are the favorites to win their first World Tour Final title. In fact, five different 3x3 stars all picked the Serbian team to win.
Stefan Kojic and Stefan Stojacic are both playing at MVP levels and after winning at both the Debrecen and Europe Masters, they are in a prime position to finally get over the hump and get their first finals trophy. This would be a massive accomplishment for a team that has won more Masters (7) than any other team in 3x3 history, not named Novi Sad.
Can they do it without Bulut?
While Dusan Bulut is the number one player in the world, and the main man behind the juggernaut that is Novi Sad, not all hope is lost.
The team has won 4 out of the 5 events that ‘Mr. Bullutproof’ has missed and has a cast of players, including Dejan Majstorovic, who can carry them in his absence. The four-time World Tour Final winners will try to make it three straight and continue to grow their legacy. They’ll just have to do it without their leading man.
Will we get a Riga/Liman grudge match?
We are all excited about the prospect of a Riga and Liman showdown, to settle who the true kings of the 2020 World Tour are. Having won the Hungary Masters and more recently, the Doha Masters, Lasmanis, Miezis, and the rest of Riga are playing at their peak, heading into Jeddah.
We are used to ‘Batman’ and ‘Robin’ running the show, but add in Edgars Krumins’ shooting and Agnis Cavars’ effort, and you have a recipe for success. Riga has already finished in second (2018) and third place (2019) at the World Tour Final. Is it their time to come out on top?
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Are they going to dominate offensively again with King?
‘Disco Domo’ Jones and NY Harlem played a tournament to forget in Doha, scoring just 15 points over two games. They were without their star scorer, Joey King, who is 6th in the World Tour in points and even had to play with only two men at one point, due to injury.
Fast forward to Jeddah where the team is back and ready to make a run at their first World Tour Final title. It won’t come easy, but with Jones, the 2019 regular season MVP, at the helm, NY Harlem has a fighter’s chance.
Can they do it without Marijus Uzupis?
Sakiai Gulbele (LTU) is a team that relies heavily on its strong teamwork, passing, and uniquely equitable scoring totals. But, slightly above the rest is Marijus Uzupis. The Lithuanian leads the team in scoring (46 pts) and P-VALPG (5.50), participating in all (9) of the team’s World Tour games.
He will be replaced by Saulius Kulvietis, who will make his 3x3 debut on the grandest stage. The man has an impressive basketball resume but will have big shoes to fill. He could become an instant 3x3 legend if he can take Sakiai to the winner’s circle.
Are they good enough to get past the top tier teams?
Piran were already facing a tough challenge in Jeddah with all of the top teams in action. But, without Simon Finzgar, that task becomes even more difficult. Piran are no stranger to the World Tour final, appearing in four straight events, making it to the quarterfinals in each.
Their first task is to make it out of the group stage, and then all bets are off. Can they pull off a major upset and join the 3x3 elite or will they show that the Slovenian team is ranked right where they belong?
Can Dimeo van der Horst carry them?
As he goes, they go. In their only World Tour action of 2020, Amsterdam finished 5th at the Debrecen Masters, battling it out before losing to Utena, 18-16 in the quarter-finals.
Van der Horst, the number one player in the Netherlands, was their leading scorer (18 pts), going 14 for 21 from inside the arc. He has the ability to fill up the score sheet and put his imprint on a game. The main question is, can he do it for (5) straight games and get them a World Tour title?
With Miroslav Pasaljic back, are Ub a legitimate contender?
Like NY Harlem, Ub came into the Doha Masters with three players and didn’t have the depth to showcase their talent.
In Hungary, it was a different story. They defeated Riga and Novi Sad, before losing in the finals to Riga in a rematch. Pasaljic returns with his 5.8 points per game and a man with a killer instinct in the clutch. If he can provide similar productivity in Jeddah, Ub might play the role of giant slayers.
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Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy
How many more pages of history can they write?
This is the first time that Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy will be playing in the World Tour Final, and the first Mongolian team to do so.
They might be underdogs but they have been a tough matchup since their pro debut. Tsenguunbayar Gotov balled out in Debrecen but the Mongolian stars will need Dulguun Enkhbat to find his range and Delgernyam Davaasambuu to be the bully he's been in the last 2 years to create another upset.
Are Lausanne the biggest sleeper in the tournament?
Lausanne enter the World Tour Final as the 10th seed, but if you look closer, this team is a few bounces away from being one of the favorites.
Not only have they beaten Liman twice this season, but they’ve also only lost 1 game by more than 2 points. They’ve defeated some of the best teams on the tour, and many who they will likely face again. Look out for their draw because they are getting hot at the right time.
Will the home court advantage help?
The World Tour 2020 season has been a unique one. Players have been flying in from all over the world after multiple COVID-19 tests, getting ready for the event.
But will the hometown advantage work for Jeddah considering there will be no fans (physically at least, more news coming soon...) at the venue? Don't underestimate the importance of doing a long training camp in the appropriate weather conditions when it's 30 degrees colder in Europe at the same time.
Are we ready to call them a favorite?
We’re running out of positive adjectives to describe Utena Uniclub (LTU) in the second half of 2020. The Lithuanian team comes in ranked 12th, earning the final World Tour Final spot, but they feel like anything but an afterthought.
Following a Debrecen Masters final and a trip to the semi-finals in Doha, the team that was assembled earlier this year is poised to push for the title, a legitimate contender with aspirations to spoil the party for Liman, Novi Sad, and Riga.
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