Sakiai Gulbele lead Lithuanian charge on Day 1 at FIBA 3x3 World Tour Prague Masters 2021
PRAGUE (Czech Republic) - All three Lithuanian teams made it to the quarter-finals but none impressed more than Sakiai Gulbele, who ranked first on offense on the opening day of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Prague Masters on September 18, 2021.
Just a week after leading Lithuania to the final of the FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup, Aurelijus Pukelis, Darius Tarvydas and Sarunas Vingelis continued to shine on the 3x3 court with Sakiai Gulbele. The Lithuanians were the only team to score 22 points in both games. Interestingly, it was their fourth player, the lefty Marijus Uzupis who paced the team in scoring with 13 points (though Pukelis and Tarvydas chipped in 12 and 11 respectively). The team ranked first in two-pointers made and second in both offensive rebounds and points conceded.
As said, they weren't the only Lithuanian team to impress. As a matter of fact, the other two Utena Uniclub and Marijampolė Mantinga also qualified to the quarter-finals, the latter making it all the way from the qualifying draw after a long day in front of the Prague Castle.
Three other teams had a perfect on Saturday. The number one team in the world Liman (SRB) won two tough games against Jeddah (KSA) and Gagarin (RUS) while the second Riga (LAT) did just fine without their star Nauris Miezis. Last but not least, Antwerp (BEL) were the only one of the four undefeated teams not to finish both games before the limit but 'Must-see TV' Thibaut Vervoort & co. were the best defense on Day 1.
We knew the game between the seeds 8 and 9 Jeddah (KSA) and Gagarin (RUS) would be one of the games of the day. And we weren't disappointed. The Olympic silver medalist Ilia Karpenkov did not miss a shot (6/6 from the field) and tied the game at 18 with a minute to go for the Russians. But the comeback kid Ovidijus Varanauskas scored his only two points of the game in the clutch for Jeddah and Nemanja Draskovic put the final touches on his Mona Lisa, a 14-point - 6-highlight double-double, shooting 8-9 from the field and 3-3 from the line. Jeddah advance to the quarter-finals.
No Robin, no problem. Karlis Lasmanis aka 'Batman' was flying solo in the streets of Prague. The Olympic champ led all scorers on Day 1 with 19 points with a perfect 6-6 from the line and a good-looking 11-21 from the field. I said he was flying solo but I was lying. The Tokyo 2020 Latvian flag-bearer Agnis Cavars isn't exactly a highlight machine. But for a second, it's like he stole Nauris Miezis's cross and Lasmanis's left-handed spike. We want more.
We hadn't seen Dragan Bjelica on the World Tour in two years so maybe some of the new players didn't read the memo, or watch the YouTube mixtapes. It didn't take long for the Serb to show why we call him 'Mr. Crossover'.
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- Nemanja Draskovic (Jeddah, KSA) ranked first in player value, which makes sense considering his epic game against Gagarin. (read above)
- Ilia Karpenkov (8-8) and Liman's Stefan Stojacic (6-6) did not miss a single shot on Saturday.
- Speaking of Liman, their win against Gagarin was the Tissot Fastest Game of the day. The game was over while the game clock showed more than 3 minutes left. It ranks sixth fastest on the season.
Watch the knock-out games of the 3x3 World Tour Prague Masters on youtube.com/FIBA3x3 and twitch.com/FIBA