Liman headline 3x3 ING Hamburg Challenger
HAMBURG (Germany) - We’ve returned from the Olympics, and the professional circuit is all year round. starting with the fourth event of the season from Hamburg, Germany, on August 6-7, 2021.
This next 3x3 Challenger comes after events held in Lipik, Poitiers, and Cergy-Pontoise, hosted earlier this year.
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Both Lipik and Poitiers were won by Antwerp, which included Belgian Olympic standouts Nick Celis, Thierry Marien, and sharpshooter Thibault Vervoot. Cergy-Pontoise was won by Princeton (USA).
Hamburg, our hosts for the weekend and the second-largest city in Germany, will be having their official FIBA 3x3 competition debut. They welcome some of 3x3's best, playing for the title.
Pool A: Liman (SRB), Nantes (FRA), Bielefeld TSVE (GER)
Pool B: Sakiai Gulbele (LTU), Graz (AUT), Dusseldorf LFDY (GER)
Pool C: Lausanne Sport (SUI), Utena Uniclub (LTU), Qualifying Draw A winner
Pool D: Pirot (SRB), Antwerp (BEL), Qualifying Draw B winner
Leading the 16-team field is powerhouse Liman, welcoming back Aleksandar Ratkov and Mihailo Vasic, bronze medalists with Serbia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It is also the return of Stefan Stojacic, aka ‘Mr.Robot’. If he can get back into gear, Liman are a clear favorite heading into the event.
Liman might be ranked atop Pool A, but they've got big targets on their back. 2021 French Open champions Nantes (FRA) and the top German team, Bielefeld TSVE (GER) are both loaded with talent and sharpshooting.
No matter who wins Pool A, they'll have plenty to handle in the bracket.
Pool B is led by Sakiai Gulbele, winners of the Hoptrans 3x3 Final this past weekend. They bring back Lithuanian’s top player Aurelijus Pukelis who's in top form. Graz (AUT) are turning into one of those teams you never want to play, led by Filip Krämer, who's already won four 3x3 events in 2021.
Pool C has two names so far, and either could win the group. Utena Uniclub, the surprise team of 2020 came in second at the Poitiers Challenger 2021, and is looking for more. But, they'll have to get past Wes Molteni, Gilles Martin, and the high-flying Lausanne offense, the top seed.
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Pool D is a wildcard. Pirot (SRB) is coming in red hot, winners of three 3x3 tournaments in July alone. They have played a lot of ball together in 2021 and you shouldn't be surprised if they make a deep run. Antwerp, the top dogs at two Challengers this year and fourth place finishers at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will come in with less firepower. Rafael Bogaerts and Nick Celis return, but they'll be without their top scorer, Thibaut Vervoort.
The rest of the field will be filled out through the two qualifying draws. Six teams, three per pool, will fight it out for two spots in the pool stage.
The top two teams in this field will also qualify for the Prague Masters on September 18-19, part of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
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