Liman eyeing more success at Lipik Challenger ahead of FIBA 3x3 World Tour resumption
LIPIK (Croatia) - Powerhouse Liman Huishan NE (SRB) are keen to continue their red-hot form at the Lipik Challenger on July 22-23 as the much anticipated return of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2022 looms.
In a loaded field of 15, the world No.2 deserve favoritism but will be made to work by a number of hungry and talented teams desperate to book their spots in next month's Lausanne Masters, which is the fourth stop on this season's World Tour.
Liman are the No.1 seed for a reason. The long-time 3x3 power haven't missed a beat in 2022 having finished runner-up at the Manila Masters followed by titles at the Ultra Novi Sad Challenger and ING Hamburg Challenger.
But they will be extra determined with the Prague Masters approaching in the re-start of the World Tour, where their rival Ub Huishan NE (SRB) have stormed out of the gates with the opening two Masters titles.
Liman will again be without FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2022 gold medalist Mihailo Vasic but that didn't matter in Hamburg with Miroslav Pasajlic fitting in seamlessly.
It helped that big fella Aleksandar Ratkov, the MVP in Hamburg, played bully ball without his partner in crime, while there continues to be no deadlier sniper than Stefan Kojic.
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In their current mood, the spectacular Serbs will be tough to beat but as always old rival Riga (LAT) loom as a major threat.
With three Tokyo Olympic gold medalists in their lineup, Riga must always be taken seriously but they are still looking for their first pro title in 2022.
Miezis will have to unleash all his superpowers because there are other contenders in the draw, especially No.3 seed Sakiai Gulbele (LTU) who won the season opener Ulaanbaatar Challenger.
Watch out Lipik because World Cup 2022 silver medalist Marijus Uzupis has been firing this season and is ready to unload his uzis from long range.
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There are many teams capable of going all the way. Let's start with Fribourg (SUI) who really caught the eye at the recent Pristina Challenger, where the new Swiss sensation finished runner-up.
Their pair of Jonathans - Kazadi and Dubas - were unstoppable and probably deserve some type of nickname if they continue to take 3x3 by storm.
Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL) have gone off the boil recently and were thrashed by Antwerp in the quarters in Pristina. But all their big guns are in Lipik as they aim to bounce back and don't write them off, especially the legendary Steve Sir who can heat up in seconds.
Cebu Chooks (PHI) will always have expectations from their loyal Filipino fans and don't be surprised to see some in the bleachers in Lipik because they always manage to find their way to 3x3 events!
These dudes have made a statement this season after a strong start to the pro circuit and showed they can mix it with the big boys with a dazzling run at the Manila Masters.
With ankle breakers, insane buzzer beaters and sick dimes, Mark Tallo was a one-man highlight reel and will be must watch in Lipik.
While in-form Dusseldorf LFDY (GER) and Marijampole Mantinga (LTU) have shown plenty this season and deserve ultimate respect.
Pool A: Liman Huishan NE (SRB), Cebu Chooks (PHI), Fribourg (SUI)
Pool B: Riga (LAT), Merkseem (BEL), Qualifier
Pool C: Sakiai Gulbele (LTU), Marijampole Mantinga (LTU), Saitama (JPN)
Pool D: Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL), Zagreb (CRO), Qualifier
What's at stake
The top 2 teams in Lipik will qualify for the Lausanne Masters on August 19-20, 2022, as part of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
How to watch
The two-day extravaganza is on July 22-23 and you can follow it live on the FIBA 3x3 YouTube and Facebook pages.
Haven't registered or done your team yet? Make sure you download the 3x3 Fantasy app and get a chance to win an official Wilson 3x3 ball.