Lasmanis and Miezis star in Beijing's triumph at FIBA 3x3 Shenzhen Challenger 2023
SHENZHEN (China) - Different team, but same deadly duo. Superheroes Karlis Lasmanis and Nauris Miezis made an instant impact with their new team Beijing (CHN), who claimed the first First 3x3 Challenger title of 2023 with victory in Shenzhen on May 13-14.
Here's what happened.
The winners: Beijing (CHN)
They were: No.1 points scored, best shooting value and fewest points
There was a lot of hype over an absolutely loaded Beijing after the Chinese team signalled their intention with the signatures of ex-Riga superstars Lasmanis and Miezis, who have arguably been the best duo of the past five years.
'Batman' and 'Robin' didn't miss a beat in their new jerseys to lead Beijing to an unbeaten run in Shenzhen. They put emotions aside with a first-up clash with Riga, who knew all the tricks of their former stars to push Beijing all the way.
But Beijing recovered from a 19-16 hole with Lasmanis and Miezis clutch to win the bragging rights before a big 21-13 statement victory over powerhouses Liman (SRB).
Beijing went up a gear in the knockout phase with crushing victories over Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy (MGL) and Amsterdam HiPRO before getting over the line in a thrilling final in a rematch with Liman.
MVP Lasmanis and Miezis combined for 74 points, but China national players Peng Yan and Yuanbo Zhu also impressed to round out this dangerous team that lived up to the hype first up.
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The runners-up: Liman (SRB)
Critics should learn a valuable lesson - never underestimate legendary Liman.
These 3x3 warriors came into Shenzhen looking different than before as they introduced new overseas recruits American Andrew Kelly and Yanxu Zhou of China.
But Liman put eggs on the faces of the doubters by making the final with their only losses against champs Beijing.
They enjoyed a huge win over old rival Riga in the pool stage before powerful victories over in-form Sansar MMC Energy (MGL) and Paris (FRA) in the knockout stage.
Perhaps the most encouraging individual performance was from big fella Kelly, who was a beast on the boards to form a powerful inside presence with brute Mihailo Vasic.
Kojic killin' it: Liman's brilliant run was mostly due to sniper Stefan Kojic's heroic effort with this Serb superstar producing a vintage display.
He was an absolute flame thrower to finish No.1 in player value (50.3), scoring (51) and second in highlights (20) as Kojic provided an early season reminder that he's one of 3x3's very best.
The Final: Beijing 22-Liman 19
Karlis Lasmanis and Nauris Miezis faced familiar foes Stefan Kojic and Mihailo Vasic, but this was the start of a new rivalry.
And it didn't disappoint with Kojic keen for revenge after Liman fell badly to Beijing on Day One.
He was putting the moves on both inside and out in a one-man show for Liman, but Beijing were sharing the scoring load around with Chinese players Peng Yan and Yuanbo Zhu starting strong.
Yanxu Zhou answered with a two to put Liman ahead as both teams went shot for shot. This game went up a gear as the heater continued with Lasmanis going bang, bang only for Kojic to reply with a huge two to reduce Beijing's lead to 18-17.
An unstoppable Kojic hit his 12th point with a long jumper to give Liman a 19-18 lead but it was time for the bat signal to be activated
Firstly, Miezis hit a step-back two before Lasmanis nailed the clutch title-winner from deep to trigger wild celebrations for Beijing and the loud Chinese fans in the crowd.
The reward: Two tickets to the Macau Masters
Beijing and Liman qualified for the first-ever Macau Masters on July 8-9, 2023. They join Ub Huishan NE, Raudondvaris Hoptrans, Miami, Toronto and Marseille
1. Beijing (CHN)
2. Liman (SRB)
3. Amsterdam HiPRO (NED)
4. Paris (FRA)
5. Sansar MMC Energy (MGL)
1. Stefan Kojic (Liman, SRB) 51 pts
2. Karlis Lasmanis (Beijing, CHN) 42 pts
3. Worthy de Jong (Amsterdam HiPRO, NED) 40 pts
4. Nauris Miezis (Beijing, CHN) 32 pts
5. Franck Seguela (Paris, FRA) 28 pts
- The top two seeds Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL) and Riga (LAT) failed to win a game.
- Worthy de Jong continued his strong start with new team Amsterdam after another trademark explosive performance, where he finished No.1 in highlights (22) and third in points (40).
- An epic quarter-final between Paris (FRA) and Partizan (SRB) required OT and took a remarkable 14'26" to determine a winner with the French team ultimately prevailing.