One question for every 3x3 team ahead of the Doha masters
DOHA (Qatar) - The teams are set, the balls are bouncing, and it's time for another year of FIBA 3x3 World Tour action. Next week, a new season begins with old faces in new places and the chance for some teams to move on from a tough 2020 campaign. Let's take a look at one question each team needs to answer coming into the Doha Masters.
Liman - Can they do it without Stojacic?
Last year you can argue that Stefan Stojacic was the most valuable player on the 3x3 World Tour outside of Miezis and Lasmanis. Going into their first World Tour event of 2021, they need to call a mechanic, because Mr. Robot is out with a broken nose. They still have the number one ranking and a strong team, but without their floor general, they have much to be worried about.
Riga - Can anyone beat them?
Karlis Lasmanis, Nauris Miezis, Edgars Krumins and Agnis Cavars. Man, Zach Snyder’s Justice League has some competition. These guys are so well-tuned, they’re beginning to look like the Harlem Globetrotters with their 20-game winning streak. At this point, we have to ask, who is their main competition? They seem to be a full step ahead of every team on the tour heading into the Doha Masters, but with great power comes great responsibility.
Ub - Is Ub a contender or pretender?
Welcome to the spotlight, Ub. The Serbian team welcomes Dejan Majstorovic and Marko Savic to a team that was already coming together as one of the better on tour. Now, they have a bitter-sweet curse of expectations. They’re now the third-ranked team in the world and already considered one of the top squads to win a World Tour for the first time in 2021. This month we will learn if they are indeed pretenders or contenders.
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NY Harlem - Will a refueled NY Harlem get back to their winning ways?
It’s been a minute since Kat Morgano laced up the kicks for NY Harlem, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. NY Harlem enters this year’s World Tour with one of their most solid teams in recent memory, after a tough 2020. Joey King is a walking bucket, and you know that Disco Domo wants to show the world he is still one of the best creators in 3x3. But it will be the work of Morgano and Esonwune that might be the difference where they land in the final standings.
Princeton - Will we see the return of 2019 Princeton?
Nothing gets us more excited than a field that truly has the best teams in the world. Princeton was a few bounces away from winning the World Tour Final in 2019 and after one event in 2020, the Americans are ready to once again make a run at the World Tour. Kareem Maddox will have to carry the load without Robbie Hummel, but with a strong supporting cast, Princeton can establish themselves early as a contender.
Novi Sad - Who is Novi Sad and how good can they be?
This is not your father’s Novi Sad. The Serbians welcome Marko Milakovic, a fellow Serbian and Utsunomiya veteran, and Strahinja Milosevic, a long-time member of the European basketball circuit to the team after their most recent high-profile split. At the center the team is still Dusan Bulut and Tamas Ivosev who will have to face their former teammates, now playing for Ub. By the end of the tournament, it will leave us all asking, who won the breakup?
Amsterdam- Does adding foreign talent work?
For years Amsterdam have been the World Tour name of the Dutch national team. They've been a frequent flyer at the World Tour Final but never managed to win that last game to win a Masters. After years of trying with home-grown talent, Amsterdam decided to experiment this year bringing in Liman's super-sub Maksim Kovacevic from Serbia. Will this be enough to finally get that Masters title they've been chasing for years?
Piran- Can Finzgar get some help?
The man needs his stimulus! In three 2020 World Tour events the 41-year-old Simon Finzgar led Piran in scoring, P-VAL per game, and S-VAL, all by a wide margin. While we like to live in a world where the Slovenian will lead Piran for the rest of the century, he is going to need some more offensive help from his teammates in order to make it to a semifinal or beyond.
Sakiai Gulbele - Will they rise again?
2020 was a year to forget for the Lithuanians. They saw the rise of Utena Uniclub while they fell to number 9 in the 3x3 Team Rankings after Marijus Uzupis' injury. Heading into the Doha Masters, they have a chance to get back on their feet and start winning games. They welcome Darius Tarvydas (formerly of Utena) to fill out the roster and revitalize the squad back to their 2019 winning ways.
Edmonton - Can they shake off the rust?
We missed the Canadians in 2020, and it’s great to see them bringing back their top three players to Doha; let’s just hope that the rust wears off quickly. Sharpshooter Steve Sir is ready to retake his throne as the best shooter in the game, ripping nets on Instagram. Don’t you worry, we brought a few extra nets with us to Qatar.
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Lusail - Can Seydou Ndoye take his game to the next level?
The Qatari big man was part of the Doha Masters 2019, leading them in scoring and field goal percentage. With the team coming in as underdogs, look for the Lusail to feed the post all game long. If the former U18 star is able to elevate his game, it will be hard to stop the home team.
Graz - Can they build on their momentum?
Graz have been one of the tougher teams to face in the past 6 months, despite the relatively short time they have spent together. Filip Kramer and Moritz Lanegger lead them into action with little to prove, and a big chance to move up the rankings and prepare for the Olympics this summer.
Doha - Can the WT newcomers make some noise at home?
Doha enters on their home court, with no World Tour experience under their belt. Just getting through the qualifying draw might be considered an accomplishment for the newcomers, where they’ll have a chance to make their country proud.
Manila Chooks - Can they do it without Munzon?
Last year, Joshua Munzon was a one-man wrecking crew on the court, imposing his will and helping Manila make it to their first World Tour Masters in Doha. This team enters the field with far less firepower and a difficult road ahead. They’ll need to earn their spot through the qualifying draw and then face the best in the game. Manila will need to come together and play great team ball if they’re going to advance to day 2.