Top ranked Ub Huishan NE face early tests at FIBA 3x3 Sansar Challenger 2023
ULAANBAATAR (Mongolia) - After a couple of Masters setbacks, top seeds Ub Huishan NE (SRB) are aiming to rediscover their unstoppable form at the FIBA 3x3 Sansar Challenger on September 9-10.
The Serbs headline a strong 16-team field and there are also three tickets available for the Chengdu Masters, which is the 13th stop on this season's FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
Let's preview all the action.
We can forgive them for a couple of quarter-final defeats on the World Tour because it's impossible to keep winning on this loaded pro tour.
But Ub Huishan NE will be keen to avoid a mini-slump and return to their winning ways. It won't be easy with legendary Dejan Majstorovic and all-round star Marko Brankovic missing.
Superstar Strahinja Stojacic and muscular Nemanja Baranja can be forgiven for feeling tired after they were part of Serbia's title at FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup 2023.
But you know there won't be any excuses for Ub, who face tough Day One challenges against Utsunomiya BREX EXE (JPN) and San Juan (PUR) - in what is a rematch of the Edmonton Masters final.
No.2 seeds Beijing (CHN) have been dominant on the pro circuit with four titles and are superbly led by superhero Karlis Lasmanis, who led Latvia to a bronze medal at the Europe Cup 2023.
If he's tired then no worries because a refreshed Nauris Miezis can put on the cape.
Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL) have been mighty consistent this season with five top-four finishes from nine events, but they are still searching for a title.
If legendary sniper Steve Sir and Marko Dugosija - who can produce heroics in the clutch - get going then the Mongolians might finally get the dub.
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They can feel annoyed for being lumped here, but it's been a mixed season for Futian (CHN), who entered 2023 with high hopes of being a powerhouse.
They have looked better recently and will be led by superstar duo Thibaut Vervoort and Dimeo van der Horst. We're tipping big things for them, but the field is deep here.
Fan favorites Sansar MMC Energy (MGL) boast Anand Ariunbold, who is hoping to reach his dizzy early season form where he was anointed with the dope nickname 'The Archer'.
In a mystery, Lausanne (SUI) just can't seem to be able to reproduce their incredible play from their home event.
This is another opportunity for them to prove they can perform away from their half-court - but one thing we can count on is that speedy Gilles Martin will get to the rim quicker than you can say 3x3.
We haven't seen much of new-look Jeddah this season, but we can't wait to see excitement machine Malik Hluchoweckyj reach into his deep bag of tricks.
Riga (LAT) and Omaha 3BALL (USA) have the firepower to make deep runs if they get out of the qualifying draw.
Pool A: Ub Huishan NE (SRB), Utsunomiya BREX EXE (JPN), San Juan (PUR)
Pool B: Beijing (CHN), Sansar MMC Energy (MGL), Jeddah (KSA)
Pool C: Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL), Lausanne (SUI), Qualifier
Pool D: Futian (CHN), Saitama ALPHAS EXE (JPN), Qualifier
What's at stake
The top 3 teams in Sansar will qualify for the Chengdu Masters on October 21-22, 2023, as part of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
How to watch
The two-day extravaganza is on September 9-10 and you can follow it live on the FIBA 3x3 YouTube and Facebook pages.