3x3 power Liman win fifth straight Challenger title after victory in Penang
PENANG (Malaysia) - Liman Huishan NE (SRB) bounced back from FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2022 disappointment with a crushing victory in Penang on September 10-11 to continue their remarkable domination of Challengers .
The No.1 seed won their fifth straight title - and 25 games in a row! - in Challengers after blowing through the competition to book a ticket to the eagerly anticipated Paris Masters, which is the ninth stop on this season's World Tour.
Here's what happened.
The winners: Liman Huishan NE (SRB)
They were: No.1 best shooting value and fewest points allowed
We warned you. After heartbreak at the recent Debrecen Masters, continuing their luckless World Tour 2022, Liman were always going to be pumped up to get back to winning form.
And they did exactly that in Penang even without big fella Mihailo Vasic, who was on national duty for Serbia at FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup 2022. Liman's impressive depth again showed with the hot shooting Miroslav Pasajlic proving a more than suitable replacement with an MVP performance as Liman flexed their muscle.
They tore through Penang like a monsoon with a beat down of the competition as Liman were barely tested in a commanding triumph. In trademark fashion, they cared like they shared in an even team effort with Aleksandar Ratkov - probably the best player in Challengers this season - and Stefan Kojic proving unstoppable inside the arc shooting at 75%.
Frustratingly, Liman's winning formula in Challengers hasn't quite crossed over into Masters but you feel their World Tour drought will end sooner rather than later.
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The runner-up: NY Harlem (USA)
The fan favorite Americans had a delayed start on this season's pro circuit but are starting to find their groove. Speaking of, Dominique Jones aka 'Disco Domo' made Penang his personal dance floor with an electric display netting an insane 54 points to almost lead NY Harlem to their first title in three years.
The No.7 seed emerged from a tough Pool B after a convincing win over Paris (FRA) then a heart-breaking victory over No.2 seed Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL).
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These natural born entertainers blitzed past Saitama ALPHAS (JPN) in the quarters then won an All-American semi against Princeton (USA) before their run ended against red-hot Liman in the final.
It was great to see one of the most popular 3x3 teams turn back the clock and make a deep run.
Disco Domo-nation: Forgotten this magician, really? If you had then 'Disco Domo' issued a timely reminder that he's still one of the best in the business after one of the biggest scoring explosions we've seen on the pro circuit.
The 5ft. 10in (1.78m) Dominique Jones might be barely taller than Kevin Hart but this Wilson wizard was the most intimidating player on the half court in Penang with a lights out display. Fittingly he wore No. 23 because he sure played like a GOAT.
His personal heat check started with a 13-point masterclass against Paris but somehow that insane total wasn't his best in Penang. Against Saitama, 'Disco Domo' had all the right moves like he was on Dancing With The Stars as he toyed with the Japanese defense to finish with an incredible 17 points, including seven two-pointers.
He then downed compatriots Princeton with an outrageous buzzer beater as if he was playing NBA 2K23.
With new stars emerging almost every week, 'Disco Domo' proved no one quite puts on a show like him.
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The Final: Liman 22-NY Harlem 9
These two teams had built a strong rivalry over the years and hopes were high of another amazing chapter.
Liman, however, had other ideas as they entered on a 24-game winning steak in Challengers and barely raised a sweat in Penang. But they had to find a way of stopping walking bucket Dominique Jones, who had on his wet suit after splashing all over the half-court.
Predictably, he got the scoring started but Liman quickly gained control with Nebojsa Kilijan, who had been quiet before the final, finally killing it by going bang, bang. The Americans were desperately trying to hang on but they looked tired having already survived a couple of thrillers.
Liman took advantage and couldn't miss with Miroslav Pasajlic and sniper Stefan Kojic engaged in a personal shootout contest as the Serbs stormed ahead. 'Disco Domo' tried to inspire a rally with a couple of baskets inside but there was no stopping Liman, who are proving unbeatable in Challengers.
They seemingly have a new hero every game and this time it was Kilijan who sank three straight twos to ice the title for Liman.
The reward: Two tickets to the Paris Masters
Liman Huishan NE and NY Harlem earned their tickets to the first ever Paris Masters on October 7-8, 2022.
They join Utrecht (NED) as teams to have qualified for the first Masters to be played in France.
1. Liman Huisan NE (SRB)
2. NY Harlem (USA)
3. Princeton (USA)
4. Paris (FRA)
5. Belgrade Partizan (SRB)
1. Dominique Jones (NY Harlem, USA) 54 pts
2. Miroslav Pasajlic (Liman, SRB) 34 pts
3. Dusan Samardzic (Utsunomiya, JPN) 30 pts
4. Mark Tallo (Cebu, PHI) 29 pts
5. Canyon Barry (Princeton, USA) 27 pts
- Only two of the top four seeds made the semis with No.2 seed Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL) and No.4 Lausanne Sport (SUI) failing to emerge from pool play after winless campaigns.
- All of Liman's wins came before the 10-minute time limit with their fastest being a quarter-final thrashing of Utsunomiya BREX (JPN) in 7'44".
- Cebu Chooks (PHI) star Mark Tallo tuned up for his upcoming home Masters with 29 points in just three games, including a monster 14-point binge in a quarter-final loss to Princeton (USA).