Where everything stands as FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2021 returns with a bang
ABU DHABI (United Arab Emirates) - Hopefully you have done all the chores and spent time with loved ones during this break because the FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2021 is back as the business end of a fascinating season approaches.
To snap you out of binge watching Squid Game, let's have a refresher on where everything stands in the World Tour with the Jeddah Final less than two months away.
Leader in the standings
The first half of the season was crazier than any Korean drama show as we had upsets galore while new powerhouses emerged. And incredible threesome of Novi Sad, Riga and Liman were winless due to varying reasons including injuries.
But mainly it spoke of the depth of the World Tour, which is becoming richer than No Time To Die's box office receipts.
Ub probably wished the World Tour didn't go into intermission because they were absolutely rolling and sported a remarkable 16-2 record thus far this season. The new-look Serbs won back-to-back Masters in Debrecen and Montreal having been runners-up in Lausanne.
Even though they didn't play in Prague, Ub have a clear lead over powers Riga and Liman who may be winless in 2021 but remain highly competitive. With more settled lineups expect them to make a move on resumption.
Amsterdam Talent &Pro have made the leap in 2021 while new sensation Antwerp round out the top 5. There is a drop of 83 points to sixth placed Graz as the standings become incredibly congested from there leading to a frenzy of jostling for the World Tour Final.
World Tour Standings:
1. Ub, 330 pts (SRB)
2. Riga, 285 pts (LAT)
3. Liman, 260 pts (SRB)
4. Amsterdam Talent & Pro, 250 pts (NED)
5. Antwerp, 210 pts (BEL)
Who has won the most Masters titles so far?
As mentioned above, this has been a particularly even season - there is no runaway juggernaut like Novi Sad 2018. As 3x3's voice Kyle Montgomery puts it in commentary, "sharing is caring".
And the Masters have been shared around with four champions so far. Only Ub have been able to claim two titles while Amsterdam Talent & Pro and Jeddah became first time winners after triumphs in Doha and Prague respectively.
But the biggest shock was San Juan turning back the clock in Lausanne and putting World Tour pioneers Puerto Rico back on the 3x3 map.
Will there be new names added to the list? You better believe so. Which ones? Your guess is as good as ours.
Who are the leading scorers?
It is little surprise that Ub has two of the top thee scorers on the World Tour. Ex-Novi Sad star Dejan Majstorovic has once again become 'the Maestro' and challenges former Liman-turned-Amsterdam player Maksim Kovacevic for the title of recruit of the year.
After a tough time last year, where some critics believed he was on the downturn, 33-year-old Majstorovic has rediscovered his sweet shooting ever since helping Serbia win bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.
Majstorovic's rejuvenation was complete when he became the No.1 ranked 3x3 player but be warned - this assassin has unfinished business.
His teammate Strahinja Stojacic is at third with the bouncy Serb winning the MVP in Montreal in an eye-catching display, where he might have legit started a debate over whether he has surpassed his legendary brother and Liman star Stefan Stojacic.
In the middle of the Ub stars is a regular on this list - the high-flying Karlis Lasmanis who no matter what happens 2021 will be his year after leading Latvia to a historic Olympic gold medal.
'Flight KLM' has been soaring to the basket and impossible to stop underlined by an overall best of 7.9 ppg for those having played more than 5 games.
Lasmanis and his fellow superhero side-kick Nauris Miezis - who is sixth on this list - took turns missing Masters before the break but Riga should be at full-strength in Abu Dhabi in an ominous warning for opponents.
Belgian new kids on the block Antwerp have added plenty of excitement in 2021 and unsurprisingly Thibaut Vervoort and Nick Celis (seventh) figure prominently.
One star to keep an eye out on is Liman's walking bucket Stefan Kojic who missed the team's runner-up campaign in Prague. The Serb sniper will be back in Abu Dhabi and is primed to make a move on the leaderboard from his current position of 16th.
1. Dejan Majstorovic, 105 pts (Ub)
2. Karlis Lasmanis, 103 pts (Riga)
3. Strahinja Stojacic, 94 pts (Ub)
4. Thibaut Vervoort, 86 pts (Antwerp)
5. Maksim Kovacevic, 84 pts (Amsterdam)
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The race for Jeddah
The race for FIBA 3x3's biggest prize will be heated with the World Tour Final in Jeddah now less than two months away.
Ub and Riga have 200+ more points than NY Harlem (USA), who rank 13th in the standings, so both teams can already book their tickets to Jeddah.
The top 12 teams in the standings will book their places to the World Tour Final and, right now, just 27 points separate sixth placed Graz and 11th place San Juan - who have a perfect score from winning their only event.
Four-time World Tour Final champs Novi Sad are sitting dangerously at eighth. Slovenian squad Piran are currently in 12th on 85 points but there are some big-named teams sitting just out of the World Tour Final picture.
NY Harlem, Lausanne Sport, Utena Uniclub, Edmonton and Gagarin are well-known teams on the World Tour and will be keen to make a move before it's all too late.
It sets up a riveting finale to what has surely been the World Tour's GOAT season.
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