Olympic 3x3 gold medalists lead Riga's title push at loaded Lausanne Masters
LAUSANNE (Switzerland) - A trio of Olympic gold medalists will be back on the 3x3 court for the first time since their stunning triumph in Tokyo when they line up for No.2 seed Riga (LAT) during the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Lausanne Masters on August 20-21.
Latvian heroes Karlis Lasmanis, Nauris Miezis and Agnis Cavars are making their return on zjeWorld Tour in the aftermath of leading their country to a historic gold medal in 3x3's Olympic debut.
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They will lead a Riga team missing Edgars Krumins who tore the anterior talofibular ligament in his ankle in the dying stages of the gold medal game against ROC and will be out for another four weeks. He will be replaced by long-time Riga squad member Arturs Strelnieks.
Riga will have to come back to earth after their stunning success in Tokyo which was punctuated by Lasmanis' game-winner for the ages to send Latvia into the record books.
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They will face an early challenge on Day 1 against host Lausanne (SUI) who are always highly rated but looking for a maiden triumph on the World Tour. Graz (AUT) have been an emerging force in 3x3 and also loom as a formidable opposition in a Pool B that might just well be the 'Group of Death'.
With their newly-crowned gold medalists, Riga should well have a swagger but there are many contenders in the absolutely loaded Lausanne Masters, which boasts five of the top six ranked teams in the world.
No.1 seed Liman (SRB) headline Pool A and are at full-strength with Stefan Stojacic aka 'Mr Robot' back in business after missing this year's first Masters in Doha. Aleksandar Ratkov and Mihailo Vasic will play their first Masters since being part of Serbia's bronze medal Olympic team in Tokyo.
Liman arrive in Lausanne having finished runners-up to Utena Uniclub at the ING Hamburg Challenger earlier this month.
Liman face in-form Antwerp (BEL) who have been the surprise packets this season with Challenger titles in Lipik and Poitiers. The No.8 seed are led by new 3x3 sensation Thibaut Vervoort, who lit up Tokyo with a trio of Tissot Buzzer Beaters as underdog Belgium finished fourth.
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Ratkov and Vasic will have a taste of revenge in their mouth as they face the third team in the pool as Gagarin stars Stanislav Sharov and Ilia Karpenkov are just fresh off a shocking upset of Serbia and a spectacular silver medal performance for the Russian Olympic Committee in Tokyo.
Pool C will be yet another episode of the NY Harlem (USA) - Novi Sad (SRB) rivalry though the Americans will arrive in Switzerland with a degree of confidence, having won the last edition of the Lausanne Masters in 2019.
Dominique Jones aka 'Disco Domo' dazzled back then with an MVP performance as he returns to his favorite hunting ground.
3x3 power Novi Sad boast new faces and will rely on big fella Tamas Ivosev to continue their strong start to the World Tour having finished runners-up in Doha.
The winners of the Qualifying Draw will complete the pool. The three teams going at it will be Moscow Inanomo (RUS), Alexandria (EGY) and Aachen Der Stamm (GER).
Last but not least, Pool D is highlighted by number 4 seed Ub (SRB) and their recent Olympic bronze medalist Dejan Majstorovic.
In their quest to win their first-ever Masters, Ub will face Princeton, whom Majstorovic defeated in the title game of the World Tour Utsunomiya Final in 2019 back in the days when he was part of Team Novi Sad.
Princeton will be without superstar Robbie Hummel but have high-flyer Kareem Maddox who will do battle with opposite number Marcel Esonwune in what certainly will be a block party.
They also boast Canyon Barry, who was part of USA's FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2019 title winning team and he is the son of NBA legend Rick Barry.
12th seed San Juan (PUR) will be aiming to defy the odds and are led by Puerto Rico's No.1 player Gilberto Clavell.
The story was updated at 2pm CET on August 17 to reflect the correct seeding in Pools C and D.