Power rankings ahead of FIBA 3x3 Abu Dhabi Final 2022
ABU DHABI (UAE) - Anticipation is building for the showpiece FIBA 3x3 Abu Dhabi Final 2022, so let's have a temperature gauge of the teams just over a week from the biggest event of the year.
Here are the power rankings of the top 12 teams in the regular season standings.
1. Riga, LAT (#No.4 seed)
Even though they suffered a loss in Hong Kong, the Latvians deserve to be No.1 on this list because of their incredible second half of the season.
The return of superhero Karlis Lasmanis did the trick as Riga brought the band of Olympic gold medalists back together and a 27-game winning streak ensued, including beating Ub in the final of Riyadh in a heavyweight contest.
With Nauris Miezis colder than Latvia's winter, Riga have never looked better and that just means they have to be ranked No.1
2. Ub Huishan NE, SRB (#No.1)
These spectacular Serbs lifted 3x3 to another level when they won the first four Masters of the season. They raised the standard to new heights and other teams, most notably Riga, have met the challenge in the second half of the season.
They've gone off the boil slightly and haven't won a Masters in their last four attempts. But we know what they have in them as Ub hunt for a first World Tour Final crown.
3. Liman, SRB (#No.2)
The defending World Tour Final champs might just be the hardest team to rank on this list. We know their famous names and pedigree with Liman having been probably the best team on the World Tour over the last five years.
Even though they still have what it takes, having won five Challengers and the Utrecht Masters this season, Liman now don't quite have that fear factor and were shockingly booted out of Hong Kong on day one for the first time in a Masters.
It's tempting to put them lower but we just have to back history and trust one of the best teams to ever do it in 3x3.
4. Antwerp, BEL (#No.3)
Speak about confusing, these dudes can go hot or cold like a tap. We know how dope Antwerp are when they are rolling and when Thibaut Vervoort is 'Must See TV.
But we've also seen their bad side with Antwerp having exited on Day One in Manila and also suffered three quarter-final exits. They could be higher or lower on this list but probably deserve a top four ranking given Antwerp also have four semi-final or better finishes in four Masters in 2022, including winning in Debrecen.
5. Vienna, AUT (#No.7)
The Austrians can probably feel annoyed that they didn't place higher considering these dudes have been deadly since Stefan Stojacic defied logic and overcame a serious knee injury to transform into his peak Liman days.
They will arrive in Abu Dhabi with swagger having had a defining last two months, where they won in Paris and finished second in Hong Kong. It's been a remarkable rise in 2022 but Vienna ain't done with yet.
6. Sakiai Gulbele, LTU (#No. 6)
Sakiai are one of the in-form 3x3 teams. As the most recent Masters champs, these lethal Lithuanians have the momentum and been red-hot for the last three months, where they've reached at least the semis in their last six events.
And with underrated duo Marijus Uzupis and Aurelijus Pukelis lighting it up from deep, there has been no stopping them. We might regret putting Sakiai this low.
7. Amsterdam HiPRO, NED (#No.5)
The Dutch Masters might just put egg on our face. These guys don't need to prove anything to us. We know they are great, but Amsterdam frustratingly have not won a Masters this year.
That's a reflection of 3x3's crazy depth but also because Amsterdam keep falling short having made 9 of 12 semis this season across Masters and Challengers without one title.
But maybe they've saved their best for last, so don't write them off.
8. Omaha 3BALL, USA (#No.10)
The Americans are making a splash in the back end of the season and we have to rank them higher than a few other really strong teams on this list.
But there is something special building for a team on the rise as underlined by two semi-final Masters finishes in the last few months.
Dylan Travis is a reliable bucket maker, while Malik Hluchoweckyj is a human highlight reel. We believe in their swagger because these Americans just love having fun and it shows on court.
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9. Utrecht, NED (#No.12)
The newcomers have lit a fuse under 3x3, especially their star Worthy de Jong who is maybe the most entertaining player on the World Tour.
If he's up to his party tricks then the new kids on the block Utrecht can once again shock the world like they memorable did in their runner-up finish in Paris.
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10. Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy, MGL (#No.8)
We feel bad putting the Mongolians down this list because they are absolute warriors making their country proud on the international stage.
Ulaanbaatar have put the hard yards in by playing 14 events this year but have no titles to show, while their winning percentage is less than 50% on the World Tour.
If, however, Steve Sir creates a heat wave in Abu Dhabi then they might finally be celebrating a title.
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11. Princeton, USA (#No.9)
It shows you how deep the World Tour is that these American greats are ranked near the bottom.
They've had a solid season after a couple of Covid-19 pandemic interrupted years, but have hit back hard in 2022. Princeton are really only this low because they haven't played for a couple of months so might be a little rusty in a tournament you have to be locked and loaded.
12. Lausanne Sport, SUI (No.11)
The always entertaining Swiss develop magical powers when they play in their home event as they again showed this year when they finished runner-up in Lausanne.
But they struggled otherwise and scraped into Abu Dhabi. Though we would be foolish to write them off because Lausanne can punk opponents on court and are fully capable of going on a giant killing run.
*The power rankings are entirely subjective and is in no way a true, accurate ranking system. All comments are purely those of the author.