How Utrecht star De Jong lit up FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2022
UTRECHT (Netherlands) - It took all of 30 seconds for Worthy de Jong to light a fuse under the FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2022.
Having just returned to 3x3 after a three-year absence, coming off the back of representing the Netherlands at FIBA EuroBasket 2022, De Jong glided to the basket for a pretty layup in the opening stages of Utrecht's opener against Marijampole at the Utrecht Masters.
That was just the start of the mayhem with only a minute later de Jong putting Justas Nausėdas on a poster with a monster two-handed dunk, where he hung on the rim to add a bit of swag.
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With a crazy 11 points and 12 highlights to lead Utrecht to a narrow 21-19 win, De Jong proved he was most worthy of your attention. There haven't been many better World Tour debuts.
But the lanky 6ft. 4in (1.94m) athletic beast wasn't nearly done as he then inspired Utrecht to an upset over No.2 seed Antwerp, where he had 10 points and 8 rebounds to outplay superstar Thibaut Vervoort.
His sheer confidence sparked Utrecht to another upset over Vienna in the quarters before their giant-killing run ended against Paris in a heartbreaking semi-final loss.
But in just four spectacular games, de Jong stamped himself as a one-man show as he topped the highlights with 25 - eight clear of the next best. He had 30 points and drove to the rim a staggering 15 times underlining his fearlessness. This dude is always in attack mode, no matter who is in his way.
De Jong firmly believes he can dunk over defenders and he's usually right. While his jaw-dropping athleticism means he's nasty on D too with the pony-tailed De Jong having the equal number of blocks (12) this season - a remarkable feat considering he's only played 12 games.
The 34-year-old quickly established himself as a fan favorite leading to much hype at his next appearance at the Paris Masters. You know the drill.
Against No.1 Ub, de Jong put on a clinic and ran rings around the dizzy Serbs with one of the best performances of the season. He had 14 points, 6 rebounds and 6 highlights in his masterclass to outplay No.1 player Strahinja Stojacic and 3x3 legend Dejan Majstorovic.
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He then somehow matched those heroics by again stuffing the sheet against Danube with 9 points, 8 rebounds and 8 highlights. Those are great numbers but don't even do justice as de Jong isn't just flash - this dude steps up in big moments too.
With Utrecht trailing 16-14, de Jong was all money as he hit a two to send the game into OT, where he wanted the Wilson. Needing one point for victory, de Jong took matters into his own hands after grabbing the rebound and dribbled patiently outside the arc.
He had poor old Marko Dugosija on an island as de Jong made his move inside the paint where the Serb to his credit hung tough and played solid D. But De Jong has more tricks than Frenkie de Jong and up faked Dugosija for the make to win the game.
De Jong wasn't satisfied as he then had revenge over Paris to stun the home fans before Utrecht beat NY Harlem in a tense semi. He played a lone hand in the final against Vienna as his teammates ran out of gas, but De Jong had ripped off one of the best runs we've seen at a Masters.
He dominated the stats to finish No.1 in - you guessed it - highlights, player value and rebounds, while he finished second in scoring with an insane 45 points.
De Jong and his teammates couldn't quite get going in Riyadh, but he did enough in Utrecht and Paris to emerge as a legit superstar and perhaps the most entertaining 3x3 player on the planet.
Named after LA Lakers legend James Worthy, De Jong fittingly has been all showtime.
His impact is obvious on the eyes and also evident on the stats sheet with de Jong equal first in triple-fives (3) and second in buzzer beaters (2). There haven't been many players in World Tour history who have made such a splash in just a handful of events.
We just can't wait to see what Worthy de Jong cooks up on the big stage at the Abu Dhabi Final.