All we learned from FIBA 3x3 Constanta Masters 2023

CONSTANTA (Romania) - The shocks continued on the FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2023 with a new champion crowned at the first-ever Constanta Masters.

Let's recap the action from the two-day spectacle on September 9-10. 

Hangzhou have arrived

Entering 2023, we knew there were powerhouses forming in China with Beijing and Futian loading up by recruiting some of 3x3's biggest stars. 

We assumed one of those teams would break China's drought on the World Tour, but Hangzhou had other ideas with a stunning triumph in Constanta. 

Hangzhou made everyone take note when they claimed the Poitiers Challenger, but winning on the World Tour is an even tougher task. 

They made the quarters in Debrecen in their World Tour 2023 debut, but stepped up in Constanta with a dazzling run. 

Hangzhou rebounded from an agonizing first up loss to Antwerp TOPdesk to peel off four straight Ws, including over Debrecen champs Raudondvaris Hoptrans and loaded Amsterdam HiPRO

We probably shouldn't be surprised because they have firepower that can  make the target of 21 disappear quickly. 

Vladimir Trajkovic has superstardom written all over him as he walked off with the MVP after lighting up the nets all event. It won't be the last award he wins.

His partner-in-crime Goran Vidovic stuffed the box score and finished with a triple-five when it mattered the most in the final.  

Confident and having tasted success, a new power is emerging so you better take Hangzhou seriously. 

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Podgorica Kodio stun the world

Hands up if you had these Montenegrins going to the final? Don't lie, put your hand down!

We haven't seen much of them before, but what a way to catch our attention! It appeared Podgorica might just be happy with getting out of the qualifying draw, but turns out they were just getting warmed up. 

The 13th seeds got on a roll and their momentum spilled over to Day Two, where they produced two of the biggest upsets of the season against Antwerp TOPdesk and Liman Huishan NE

Their fairy-tale run ended in the final, but Podgorica had already produced one of the greatest giant-killing runs in World Tour history. 

A new star was born with Milos Jovanovic unstoppable in Constanta, but the 27-year-old has been on the 3x3 scene for some time. He's clearly gotten better and showed he is ready for the big stage with a box office performance. 

Podgorica have arrived and we can't wait to see how they follow up this scene stealing performance. 

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Amsterdam HiPRO again fall short

For just the second time in seven Masters this season, Amsterdam got past their hoodoo of the quarters when they convincingly beat Vienna.

They could smell a first Masters title in over two years and entered the semis against Hangzhou as hot favorites. But Amsterdam fell short and frustratingly remain winless on the World Tour. 

Superstar Worthy de Jong was again sensational to average 8.3 ppg - a fraction below his season's mark - but it just wasn't enough.

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They might need to try to find a way to get sniper Julian Jaring involved more on offense after he had just 13 shots from the four games. 

Amsterdam will need to go back to the drawing board because we're already into September and this much-hyped team still have nothing to show for on the World Tour. 

Liman has a new star

Powerhouse Liman has for some time been reliant on superstars Stefan Kojic and Mihailo Vasic. 

This legendary team has changed a little in recent years, but they continue to be a contender because of their ability to inject talent around Kojic and Vasic. 

Liman's latest star is Chinese dynamo Ning Zhang, who overshadowed his famous teammates with a dominant performance to lead Liman to a semi-final run. 

The 26-year-old again showcased his liking for playing bully ball as he attacked the rim relentlessly and was a brute on the boards. He also broke the hearts of Princeton in the quarters with a Maurice Lacroix Buzzer Beater. 

With Zhang going up a level, Liman remain a force in 3x3. 

'Grabo' is on another level

Piotr 'Grabo' Grabowski probably needs another trophy cabinet because this legendary dunker just keeps collecting titles. 

He faced stiff competition against rising dunkers Daniel Papp and Bartosz Szwed, but it was the Pole who again stole the show. 

'Grabo' was out of this world and he made jaws drop when he dunked over five volunteers. 

He thoroughly deserved to win the Arrow Sea Trading Dunk Contest. Click below to watch his domination of another dunk contest. 


Constanta continues Romania's rich 3x3 legacy

It's little wonder legendary Sports Illustrated journalist Alexander Wolff once called Romania the 'mecca of 3x3'. 

The country has been a pioneer of 3x3 and many Romanians behind the scene have had a major influence on the game. 

So it is always special when 3x3 journeys to the southeastern European country. For the first time, the World Tour landed in the pretty city of Constanta along the shores of the Black Sea. 

It proved a spectacular setting with the passionate 3x3 fans in the bleachers adding to the incredible atmosphere. 

We can't wait to return to Constanta.