Riga and Antwerp on collision course to renew epic rivalry at FIBA 3x3 NEOM Super Quest 2022
NEOM (Saudi Arabia) - After a brief breather, the roller-coaster continues with the FIBA 3x3 NEOM Super Quest on November 4-5 ahead of the resumption of the World Tour 2022.
With Halloween done and dusted, that means the end of the year is in sight and so too the showpiece FIBA 3x3 Abu Dhabi Final 2022 heightening the importance of the event in NEOM with two tickets up for grabs to the Hong Kong Masters on November 26-27.
This draw is loaded with powerhouse teams Riga (LAT), Antwerp (BEL) and Vienna (AUT) combining to win four of the last five Masters.
The Latvians have been back to their brilliant best since the return of superstar Karlis Lasmanis with wins in Montreal and Cebu. Their four Olympic gold medalists have easily recaptured their famed chemistry and the superhero duo of Lasmanis and Nauris Miezis might be better than ever.
Sniper Miezis was at his best in the clutch in Cebu to take home the MVP and break the hearts of Antwerp (BEL) whom they might meet in NEOM.
The Debrecen Masters champs will be again led by walking bucket Thibaut Vervoort, while sharpshooter Dennis Donkor has fitted in perfectly with his blend of offensive firepower and ability to play lockdown defense.
Antwerp will be tested early in Pool B against NY Harlem (USA), who boast flame thrower Dominique Jones and reached the semis at the Paris Masters, but expect another deep run from one of the best in the business.
Rounding out the contenders is No.3 seed Vienna, who have made the leap in 2022 but they're not finished yet.
The Paris Masters champs boast reborn Stefan Stojacic, who is set to continue his incredible comeback from a knee injury, while big fella Quincy Diggs has been the perfect replacement for dunking machine Filip Kramer.
Vienna will need to be sharp from the get go as they face a Pool C blockbuster against rising Paris (FRA), who boast explosive Paul Djoko.
We've already mentioned Paris and NY Harlem, who are two teams with swagger, aren't afraid of anybody and reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally need the ticket to Hong Kong to get a chance to qualify for the World Tour Final.
But the field is deep and there are others who can absolutely go all the way. This will be the 13th - 13! - pro event for Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MLG) this year, who are travelling more than George Clooney in Up in the Air, but silverware has eluded them.
After semi-final finishes in Cebu and Tainan City Challenger, the Mongolians are trending upwards and perhaps this is their moment.
Jeddah (KSA) and Warsaw Lotto (POL) entered the season as much-hyped teams only to disappoint, but better recent results suggest they might finally have clicked into gear.
You want a dark horse? Then it might just be Manila Chooks (PHI), who will want to rebound after failing to emerge from qualifying in Cebu.
But they just can't be written off going on a purple patch because muscular Henry Iloka is stronger than Black Adam when he's in the paint and he just might be able to inspire the Filipinos to great heights.
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Pool A: Riga (LAT), Warsaw Lotto (POL), Manila Chooks (PHI)
Pool B: Antwerp (BEL), NY Harlem (USA), Al Shatee UBT (KSA)
Pool C: Vienna (AUT), Paris (FRA), Dammam (KSA)
Pool D: Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL), Jeddah (KSA), Riyadh (KSA)
What's at stake
The top 2 teams in NEOM will qualify for the Hong Kong Masters, the 11th stop on this year's World Tour 2022. Important note - if Antwerp finish top two then the third ranked team will claim a ticket to Hong Kong.
How to watch
The two-day extravaganza is on November 4-5 and you can follow it live on the FIBA 3x3 YouTube and Facebook pages.