The 10 best moments in FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final history
JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia) - The World Tour Final is 3x3's biggest prize and there will definitely be insane moments during the upcoming two-day end-of-season spectacle.
Ahead of this week's Jeddah Final, we look back at the top 10 moments in the World Tour Final's history.
San Juan win the first-ever World Tour season
World-famous Miami was an appropriate setting for the first-ever World Tour Final. In glitzy Florida, San Juan created history by claiming the title and setting the standard for the World Tour's biggest prize.
Fittingly, San Juan had a memorable campaign with a classic semi-final victory over Edmonton highlighted by Jose Lopez's memorable airplane celebration. In the decider, San Juan gained revenge over Split - who had won the clash earlier in the day - with a tense 20-16 victory to trigger scenes of celebration and hard-partying in Miami.
The original will never be forgotten, even after the tragic passing of 3x3 pioneer Andy 'Corky' Ortiz.
Novi Sad vs Kranj semi-final (2013)
Novi Sad made their World Tour Final debut in 2013 and the Dusan Bulut-led team stormed into the semis but Kranj were not intimidated. The Slovenians appeared headed for the final with a 12-9 lead in the dying stages but up stepped Bulut - and certainly not for the last time!
In an early glimpse of greatness, 'Mr. Bullutproof' hit a stepback two with 25 seconds left and the ball fell in his hands on the last play after Kranj missed a chance to stretch out their one-point lead.
With ice in his veins, Bulut calmly drained a two with seconds left to deliver Novi Sad the W and send Kranj crashing.
Miezis' winner 2020
Every kid dreams of hitting the game-winning shot to win the title, falling to the court, and getting mobbed by his teammates. For Nauris Miezis, that playground moment became a reality when he hit one of the most memorable Tissot Buzzer Beaters in 3x3 history.
The moment had everything. They were playing against the mighty Liman when Miezis, aka 'Robin', stepped back and knocked down the cold-blooded two-pointer to give Riga the 21-20 win and their first-ever World Tour Final trophy. The number one player in the world wasn't going to let his team down and gave us a moment we will never forget.
Manila North shock the world (2015)
Abu Dhabi was turned into Little Manila after a night for the ages. On the brink of elimination after an opening loss to Kranj, Manila North stunned event favorites Doha with a 16-14 victory which was inspired by the hot hand of Calvin Abueva who instantly became a Filipino legend.
There have been few better scenes than a frenzied Filipino crowd willing an inspired Manila North, who was seemingly possessed as they qualified for a surprise quarter-final berth.
Bulut and Majstorovic save Novi Sad against Piran (2015)
Defending champs Novi Sad were hot favorites to repeat but were in big trouble in the semis against Piran (who were called Trbovlje back then).
Led by 'The Sphinx' Simon Finzgar, who made the defenders appear mummified, the Slovenians edged ahead for most of the game but Novi Sad would not go away.
It came down to the dying seconds and one of the great 3x3 finishes. A Finzgar bucket gave Piran a 14-12 lead with 48 seconds left and then neither team could score under pressure. With seconds left, Dejan Majstorovic hit a tough contested two to tie the scores and force OT.
It was then Dusan Bulut's turn for the heroics. In the first possession of overtime, he drained a two right off the check-ball on the Sphinx's nose to break Piran's hearts and send Novi Sad into a third straight decider in the World Tour Final.
It just isn't fair that Novi Sad have not one but two all-time assassins!
Hercegovac scores 50 points, leads Ljubljana to the 2016 title
Jasmin Hercegovac has one of the great 3x3 nicknames - 'the Iceman'. And he was colder than the Antarctic during the World Tour Final 2016 when he led an unfancied Ljubljana to a dominant title run.
In one of the most spectacular individual performances in 3x3 history, Hercegovac lit up Abu Dhabi with an array of hot shooting to finish with a dazzling 50 points in 5 games.
He was at his absolute best at the business end with an insane 13 points in the semi-final against Caguas and then 11 points in the final against surprise packets Hamamatsu.
It's the crowning moment in a solid career for Hercegovac - and Ljubljana.
Bjelica does the best ankle-breaker in World Tour history (2016)
There's a good reason lightning-quick Dragan Bjelica is known as 'Mr Crossover'. Inspired by NBA legend Tim Hardaway, the Serb had been breaking ankles since he learned how to dribble and perhaps, inevitably, was always going to produce the best crossover in World Tour history.
Best game-winner in 3x3 history (2017)
It's simply the greatest 3x3 shot in World Tour history. Bogdan Dragovic slew the dragon with the most insane Tissot buzzer-beater to win the title for underdog Zemun over powerhouse Novi Sad.
The World Tour final in 2017 came down to the final seconds and Dragovic breathed a fireball from beyond the logo to win Zemun's only major title to date.
It will always be remembered for 3x3's GOAT buzzer-beater and perhaps our man Kyle Montgomery's greatest call - listening to his excitement and bewilderment will give you goosebumps.
It's little wonder Montgomery still has Dragovic's shot as No.1 all-time even though Karlis Lasmanis' recent heroics in Doha emerged as a worthy challenger.
Novi Sad win their 3rd title with a historic 32-0 season record (2018)
When Dragovic hit THAT shot, Novi Sad were stunned and visibly shaken. But the mark of a great team is how they respond to a gut punch and the Serbs unsurprisingly were out for revenge like Arya Stark.
They came back stronger than Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron to dominate the World Tour in 2018 with an unreal 32-0 season. Novi Sad won Masters in Saskatoon, Prague, Lausanne, Debrecen, and Hyderabad before capping it off by taking out the Bloomage Final in Beijing.
At the Final, the ruthless Serbs gained sweet revenge against Zemun in a one-sided semi before overcoming a gallant Riga in a tight decider largely thanks to the brilliance of MVP Dusan Bulut.
This utterly remarkable unbeaten season will likely remain in the record books forever.
Smoove's crazy dunk (2019)
Has there ever been a dunk better than this? A ridiculously difficult dunk was done so effortlessly that it made you instantly do a double-take.
Dmitry 'Smoove' Krivenko proved he ranked among the best in the business in Utsunomiya.
It's no surprise he melted down social media and the physics-defying dunk made an appearance on ESPN's iconic SportsCentre. And no, for the last time, it's not Tom Brady.
Has there ever been a dunk better than this? #3x3WT pic.twitter.com/G66jbcdqvu— FIBA3x3 (@FIBA3x3) December 13, 2021